For all the dynamic and vigorous activities many of us do, the fact is you really can’t beat a good hike in the countryside all year round. I love it!  In fact from late Spring through Summer and well into late Autumn, you’ll find me not walking alongside a stream in one of my favourite parts of the country, but gleefully wading in it! Bikini on, amphibious shoes, towel around waist and backpack well stocked, wading in a crystal clear, warm (yes!) stream.  Warm from the radiation of the sun on its rock bottom, teaming with micro biodiversity and fresh water fish scattering for cover as I swoosh, and splash my way miles up stream to source and back. RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU We don’t need science to have found the benefits of negative ions and the positive health benefits delivered by water, they engulf us straightaway. However there is plenty of science to support the health giving properties. Walking and hiking is relatively simple to plan and execute and can be the most wonderful for of ‘liberation and escape’. I certainly valued it during the heyday of Gladiators. We were the biggest thing on TV and us Gladiators were some of the best known faces in the country. And as other TV work came my way, my anonymity was being well and truly lost. So my hikes were a truly precious way of escaping, re-charging and energising. Man has always sought water bodies to give health and healing And when it comes to walking / hiking it has been a timeless and instinctive and necessary process. What’s also instinctive is to walk regardless of the season. Outdoors are where we evolved for the vast majority of the human journey, and we’ve only sought shelter for safety, shelter and sleep. The rest was spent in nature to hunt, cultivate and commune.
OK Winter causes many to seek more indoor alternatives but as soon as there’s a high pressure and the delight of our gorgeous winter light you’ll find yourself more instinctively wanting to don scarfs, gloves (any layers) and a sturdy shoe or boot. So instead of catching up with friends or family over a brew of something toxic, delay until you’ve all layered up and hit your nearest place to stroll, walk out for half an hour or more.  You’ll notice how kids naturally just love the buzz of the outdoors and it’ll help with the taming of the giddiness the season brings. As well as for a vital half hour helping to alleviate some stress levels from usually poorly nutritious food and jumping minds over stimulated by so much modern technology. You’ll also notice how much better you sleep too. Even small periods of exposure to sunlight in Winter help with our vitamin D production which is vital for bone health and wellbeing, plus there’s the endorphin lift and lymph drainage from the gentle rhythmic pumping of muscles. You’ll love being able to get some great shots of the giddy kids and pink cheeked friends and family, despite any earlier protests and grumbles you’ll be thanked later when everyone is more relaxed and radiated with bonhomie. For those with the time to venture further than a local park or beauty spot stroll, there’s always a walk or even a hike. A walk I class as something that you do at a moderate pace and can be out for anything up to two hours without back pack for sustenance and provision. I enjoy walks wherever I can. They’re key to how I maintain my health. winterexerciseplan_2 Most dog owners fit into the walker category as it’s compulsory! Lovely to share with a four legged furry face anytime, as they generally never moan and the winter throws up even more delight to their olfactory bliss with smells heightened by the great outdoor freezer. Then there is hiking and winter hiking is an art and exhilaration! Hiking takes more in planning and preparation. Usually of longer duration, 4+ hours and may involve greater exertion and intensity with hillclimbing for views and other features worth that extra deeper immersion into the outdoors. Route planning and a backpack for the delights of a fresh homemade packed lunch and spare clothing a must.  Sustaining hydration and keeping blood sugar levels is vital plus your thermogenic responses will require layering on and off to stave off sweating on a climb and then the chill that can follow. Solo or in company?
I’ve found I’m happy in either situation. If solo always let someone know where you’re going and for how long. For strolling or walking there is nothing nicer than a good friend to catch up with or a family grouping. Hiking I prefer a companion of similar pace and interests to share the hours of beauty and connectedness you can regain while on a winter wander. In the warmer months if you do venture near a crystal clear rock bottomed stream with gorgeous little waterfalls feeding her run and happen to see someone in it yomping away with the biggest grin from under their hat, it might just be me! I’ll still be out there in winter but probably less identifiable under numerous cozy layers. However I can assure you I will still be glowing and grinning! Walking in the outdoors at any time of year is very good for you on so many levels and delivers what the the Danes rather wonderfully refer to as Hygge. I wish you plenty of Hygge bliss! Diane is soon to be presenting on TV series ‘Walks Around Britain’.
When not outdoors she is a Psychotherapist and Coach in private practice working across the UK and online.  A director of the Core Philosophy – Wellness Culture in the Workplace programmes. A Psychotherapist and Holistic Lifestyle Coach at C.H.E.K Europe Institute who also contributes extensively in this field in media and TV production. www.dianeyoudale.co.uk Twitter  @di_youdale Connect here with WatchFit expert Diane Youdale  

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