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01 April 2021

5 reasons to roam outdoors this weekend as the Countryside Code gets an update

01 April 2021

If you’re thinking of visiting the countryside for some fresh air this Bank Holiday weekend, you’re not alone. But before you pack your picnic, you should know there’s been an update to the rules for enjoying natural spaces respectfully.

People are now being urged to say a polite ‘hello’ to others, keep to footpaths, and bag and bin their dog’s poo in the latest amends to the Countryside Code.

Why are the rules important and what’s changed?

With many of us seeking a breather from lockdown, Natural England and Natural Resources Wales, who outline the Code, say it’s more important than ever we respect natural places, from forests and national parks, to coastlines and countryside.

Campaigners at Clean Up Britain have warned of beauty spots becoming a dumping ground for litter. Easing lockdown restrictions has seen rubbish left in parks as people increasingly spend time outdoors.

Key changes to the Countryside Code include saying hello to others, not feeding livestock, staying on marked footpaths to avoid trampling crops, and it also advises on certain activities, like wild swimming.

Up to speed? Here’s why it’s time to get outdoors (pandemic restrictions allowing)…

1. For some fresh air

Country air is great for the lungs. If you live in an urban area, there’s no better feeling than getting a dose of that ‘freshly cut grass’ aroma found in more rural areas, where the car fumes aren’t quite so dominating.

2. To reduce stress

It’s no surprise that gazing upon green rolling fields or crashing waves is better for our mental wellbeing than living amongst concrete and glass. In fact, a study in the journal Nature found cities see higher rates of mental health problems than non-urban areas.

And according to another study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, you don’t have to live in the country to enjoy the benefits; spending just 20 minutes in nature could be enough to improve our wellbeing.

3. Escape the same four walls

Working from the living room, as so many of us are at the moment, has changed the way lots of us feel about our homes. Quarantine rules are making it tricky to book a trip abroad, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the same sense of adventure in a local beauty spot.

The simplest things can have a huge impact on our happiness. A day in nature can work wonders on your mood and motivation – and it’s a fantastic way to avoid that ‘trapped’ lockdown feeling.

4. See some wildlife

There are so many opportunities to watch or listen to the birds, spot fish in rivers, watch out for insects and, depending on where you live, even spot wild rabbits, badgers or a deer or two.

5. Get some exercise

Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to increase your activity levels if you hate the idea of yet another home workout in your garden. It’s often overlooked as a form of exercise, but it can burn calories, build strength and improve your heart health – often without you even realising it.

You don’t have to plod along for hours either. A brisk 30-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits and counts towards your recommended 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

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