Walking health benefits take one step to a healthier you...

The Good Life Letter 

30th January  2011

  • Walking health benefits that EVERYONE can enjoy
  • How a free service might make you a few pounds better off

I've decided that January is the best month for walking and with that comes the walking health benefits that every single one of us can enjoy.

Over the last few weeks I have found myself wandering high and low across our beautiful countryside - much to the dog's delight.

There is something really invigorating about the January air, chilled and clear. You feel it soaking into you, making your face and fingers tingle.

A steady even pace over frozen ground imparts a gentle and rhythmic movement into all of your joints, through the spine and into the pelvis - almost like giving yourself a full body workout.

Taking a deep breath is a wonderful experience; cold, dry clean air rushing into the depths of the lungs which just seems to be the equivalent of a good spring clean.

There is no dust, no pollen and a much reduced pollution load - so it's good for you.

After a slow start to the year, I am finally feeling my spirits lifted, my heart gladden and my health kick started.

We live much of our lives now in centrally heated splendour, where we control the light levels, the ventilation and the temperature.

Our bodies stay within comfortable limits, so our internal thermostats don't really have to do much work - and we needn't burn stored energy to maintain our body temperature.

Being out in the cold snaps the body back to life and gets the system working hard again, making the blood pump to our extremities and generally giving the internal boiler a good work out.We do the same thing every year in the house, a man comes round and services the Aga, the boiler and the central heating system - we think nothing of it, and are happy to have the work carried out.

Why shouldn't we do the same thing for our bodies?

The other thing I've enjoyed about being let loose is the abundant sights and sounds to be experienced.

Huge grey flocks of pigeons flopping down to scoff the farmers oilseed rape crops, the rare sight of Fieldfares, a visiting member of the thrush family, chuckling around in small groups, and the buzz of an industrious woodpecker deep in the woods - all make you stop and stare as they go about their busy lives.

It makes me feel like a right old countryman, although given my age it's unlikely the BBC would employ me for the vacancy on Countryfile!

Inside knowledge could make a nice little earner!

But it's not just the joys of nature that has captivated me, there is also the sight of human endeavour as well.

None more so than the walk across my local park on a Saturday afternoon, or a Sunday morning when the local rugby sides turn out.

It takes me back to my own prowess on the field. The sweat, toil and aggression of the game in balance with the camaraderie, spirit and good manners of your team mates, plus the post match chat in the bar.

I really miss it now that I don't play, and would offer my services in an instant if I thought I could achieve the standard of play of even my local league. But it's a young person's game - and is theirs to enjoy.

I content myself with standing on the touchline, wincing as the big hits go in, and applauding the fluidity of the passing game.

The next few weeks see's the highlight of my sporting calendar commence - The Six Nations Rugby, with the added bonus that my beloved Welshmen take on the might of England at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff - and I'll be there!

Just to up the ante for this game I have also put my money where my mouth is, although being me I didn't just dice in without a little research.

Not Ray... and I found a really great site for anyone who fancies a flutter on the rugby, or indeed any sport. It's called Bet Bank Alerts and will give you expert, easy-to-follow advice on how to make money from the Six Nations.

Even better news is the fact that a guest membership to the service is free for the next two months, which should cover the tournament - so get yourself signed up and you'll receive two e-mails a week with inside information on the best bets going for a range of sporting events.

It's easy... and whilst nothing is guaranteed when it comes to sport, at least you can have a bit of fun backed by someone who knows the gambling industry well.

I might not be able to pull my boots on or wear the Prince of Wales plume over my left breast, but I can certainly enjoy the rich rewards of victory as we steamroller the English in Cardiff on the 4th of February. (Please note no further correspondence will be entertained on this subject!)

Or that's how I envisage it... even if we lose I'll have felt like I played my part and had the courage of my convictions.

Do yourself a favour; get your walking boots on

I implore you to get your walking boots on and amble out into the great outdoors yourself, get a few good lungfuls of clean, crisp air - and feel the delight of your face coming alive in the frosty sunshine.

Give your central heating a flush out and enjoy the sights of your local area - it might come as a surprise to find out just what is out there to be seen.

Of course, you will need to be outside to hear Wales roar!

Yours, as always




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