8th August 2019
In July the Land Trust team set out on a challenge to walk 15,000 miles in a year. Despite some initial difficulties working out how to use Strava to track our miles (for some of us anyway!) we are off to a great start, with the team covering 700 miles already.
So why 15,000 miles?
There were two reasons – the first was to do a challenge to celebrate everything that has been achieved since the Land Trust was established in 2004 and mark our 15th birthday. 15,000 sounded like a nice round number.
The second was to come up with a task that would encourage our staff to get outside and enjoy all the health and wellbeing benefits that spending time in the outdoors can bring.
Our Health for Life project, which we ran in partnership with the Natural Health Service Centre of Excellence on our site at Countess of Chester Country Park, set out to understand the health benefits that spending time outdoors can bring.
The results were overwhelmingly positive with participants not only reaping the physical benefits, but also reporting significant improvements to their mental health.
Over the last couple of years we have talked about this project on our website, across social media and at conferences up and down the country and we thought it was about time that we started practising what we preached, dusted off our walking shoes and spent more time outdoors.
When you break the overall target down between us the distance that we are required to cover is just over a mile a day which on paper doesn’t seem like much (and it isn’t really) but it can make a real difference.
Walking just a mile a day can have a huge array of health benefits. It can improve your mood, reduce your risk of suffering from stress or depression and help you sleep better. It can also have a positive effect on your physical health, lowering things like blood pressure and cholesterol levels, maintaining strong bones, and reducing your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer.
We are also living in a time when our environment is changing, brought about by the excesses of human beings. We drive too many cars and burn too many fossil fuels. At the Land Trust we are very passionate about protecting our environment and we manage our green spaces in such a way to ensure they make a positive contribution to our natural world.
Chris Boardman, former Olympic gold medallist, and now Cycling and Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester has long preached about the benefits of active travel and how it can help solve so many of the problems that afflict our country, from health problems such as obesity, diabetes and mental illness, to the quality of our polluted air caused by the congestion on our roads and in our cities.
One particularly concerning statistic for Manchester is that there are 250 million car journeys of less than 1km every year.
At first I found this difficult to believe until I realised how many times a week I was driving to my local shop to pick up something I needed for my tea that night or to get a pint of milk.
It’s an astonishing statistic and one that we can all play our part to change to potentially help save our NHS and our economy billions each year.
Ultimately it’s all about changing habits. It’s about thinking twice about getting in the car and going for a walk instead, enjoying the associated health benefits that choice can bring and doing your own little bit for the health of our environment.
We’re a small charity and we can’t change the world on our own but we can do our bit and we would encourage the rest of you to put down your car keys, go for a walk and feel healthier and happier as a result.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Aaron Gales joined the Land Trust in March 2018 as a Communications and Marketing specialist.
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