Walkers enjoy an outing in winter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Walkers enjoy an outing in winter. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Ramblers are encouraging people to continue walking through the winter months.

Heading out for a walk benefits health and wellbeing, even when the temperature drops, they said.

The charity commissioned a poll to gauge people’s attitude to pulling on their boots and striding out into the great outdoors.

A spokesperson for the Ramblers said: “As we go into another festive season overshadowed by the threat of Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses, getting some fresh air is the most popular motivating reason for walking for leisure.

“It was cited by a whopping seven out of ten walkers, according to a poll conducted by YouGov exclusively for the Ramblers, Britain’s largest walking charity.”

Other findings included: enjoying being in nature would encourage nearly half of respondents to walk, and 37 per cent said getting off the sofa would encourage them to do so. Nearly a third of respondents – 30 per cent – saw themselves as ‘health walkers’ who walked regularly to improve their health and wellbeing, while 36.3 per cent said they walked to relax, perhaps at weekends. Only 7 per cent said they were reluctant walkers, an indicator of how Britons have embraced walking.

The statistics were released as part of the Ramblers’ Walk Your Way in Winter campaign to encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the maximum enjoyment from walking in winter, no matter what type of leisure walker they see themselves as.

Tom Platt, director of advocacy and operations for the Ramblers said: “Enjoying walking, connecting with nature, and getting fresh air are things that more of us than ever have valued since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as we head into winter the Ramblers is here to inspire and encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the most out of being outdoors.

“A winter walk has proven health and wellbeing benefits, like topping up your vitamin D levels and boosting your mood, but we know the shorter days and colder weather can make it harder to get motivated, so we’ve got lots of inspiration and tips to get everyone out enjoying winter walking.”

As part of the campaign, which runs until the end of February, people can download a ‘bingo card’ with challenges to complete with friends and family; a chance to find out what type of walker you are; along with tips for winter walking.

The survey revealed weather as the main deterrent to winter walking, with more than 41 per cent of respondents saying the higher chance of rain would put them off. Early darkness, colder temperatures and the higher risk of ice and snow were also cited as reasons not to head out.

Favourite ways to end a winter walk were getting cosy at home in front of a fire and buying a hot drink from a cafe.

Helen Thomas, who combines working full-time with leading walks and volunteering as secretary for the Ramblers’ Tawe Trekkers group for younger walkers in Wales, is an ardent lover of winter walking with her group, and is encouraging everyone to Walk Your Way in Winter.

She said: “I love walking in winter, for example, when there’s a hard frost the ground crunches under your feet, and I like to stop and admire the icy formations created by the freezing cold winds on blades of grass, fences and rocky crags when walking high in the Brecon Beacons.

“We’ve had group walks along the coast when we’ve encountered hail and winds, but being out in all weathers made us feel alive. When the sun came out, we enjoyed jumping in puddles knowing we’d soon dry out, and that once we were back home we’d have a hot shower, warm up and feel a glow in our cheeks and a great sense of achievement from enjoying the outdoors.”

The Ramblers said, to help people discover the fun and friendship that walking with as a member offers, anyone can walk three times with a group without charge before deciding to join.

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