Our friends at the Forestry Commission share our love of the great outdoors. They also see the forest as the place to explore, enjoy and exercise. Here’s a guest post written by Joe Walton, Forestry Commission England.
How many unloved gym passes lay dormant after their new year’s resolution-inspired pledges wear thin? How many running shoes go unworn for months after one event? How many health concerns do we ignore just because we don’t enjoy working out?
It’s tough. Health warnings are popping up everywhere we look, and our foods now contain more sugar and fat than we thought possible. We know we should be more healthy, but in real terms that means getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, and two or more days of strength exercise a week according to NHS guidelines.
The problem is, lacing up your shoes and getting out for a run on the busy streets or in a crowded gym can be daunting. As well as having no privacy, there’s no fresh air, and let’s be honest here… it can be pretty dull.
Run Forest Run
Thankfully, we’re not alone in thinking this! Forestry Commission England have recently teamed up with running experts Run England to try to make exercise enjoyable again by bringing running in the forest to life.
According to Run England research, by committing to small achievable goals, finding a support network or a motivational programme to keep us going, and appreciating the environment we exercise in, we can make exercise enjoyable again (and get healthy doing it).
Personal trainer Clare Darlington recognises this, and has been working closely with the Forestry Commission to help make this easier. Together they have designed an email programme which helps us to take the first steps to get up and running in the forest.
The six week programme titled ‘Run Forest Run’, features videos, advice, exercises and training plans to keep us motivated and inspired as we get into the habit of running in the forest.
Thinking about it, ditching the gym or streets for a forest workout is a straight-up good idea.
Instead of sweaty neighbours at the gym, we’ll be running alongside birds and wildlife, and instead of weaving in and out of traffic, we’ll be whizzing along between the trees. That sounds more like it!
There are also a series of 3, 2, and 1 km running routes across the country to make building up your stamina and strength a little easier, and giving you those achievable goals to stay motivated!
Once you get beyond the hurdles and frustrations which you normally associate with exercise, you get to the core of what it’s really about. No more gym passes or dark streets, just the forest, your feet, and a large dose of endorphins!
After you’ve found your running rhythm, you might start craving something a little more challenging.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to run somewhere a little more free, try one of the longer Wild Running routes. These are a series of the most free, euphoric runs for you to “release your inner wild.” You can download and open the routes in your favourite running app, or print out the route guide and map if you’re going for the old school, tech-free-runner vibe.
So there it is, distance yourself from the places and things which prevent you from really enjoying exercise, and place yourself in inspiring natural environment. Before you know it you will be reaping the rewards of running with a big smile on your face.