Wednesday, December 13The Voice of London

Six surprising reasons to visit the park this winter

With the cold and flu symptoms lurking around, all we want to do is lock ourselves indoors, nestle up on the couch and light the fire. 

But contrary to what many believe, winter is actually the perfect season to get out of the house – no, not to the nightclub, but to any parks or open spaces close by. Even just by taking a short stroll during the day, you are doing your body great wonders that cannot be offered by the interiors of your own house.

Below we’ve listed six great health benefits that parks have to offer almost all year round.

Parks encourage exercise

It’s important to try and get active every day of the year, but during winter we all lose motivation. However, science shows that you burn more calories when exercising during winter because your body works harder to warm itself up. The heart also pumps more efficiently, improving blood circulation and strengthening your immune system.

The outdoors help to beat winter blues

Going for an outdoor walk helps reduce stress and allows quality time for self-reflection. This is especially important during winter when shorter and colder days cut down our exposure to natural sunlight. Walking boosts your intake of fresh air and Vitamin D, which helps to improve mood, memory and your ability to think clearly.

Parks help to boost mental health

The lower levels of pollution and the quieter atmosphere in parks help to improve communication, attentiveness and decision-making. Being outdoors in general also supports the release of serotonin, a chemical in the brain that aids with stabilising mood. It also helps with appetite, digestion and sleep. Find out more at:

https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin#functions

A great place for children to get active

If you’re a parent of young children, that’s another reason to head out to the park. The rise of electronics including iPads, XBoxes and PlayStations mean that kids are spending more time indoors and in front of a screen.

But parks allow children to expand their imagination away from the confinements of indoor play. The open space allows them to be more active, improving essential physical needs such as balance, co-ordination and muscle strength.

Better sleep at night

During winter, it seems as though we can never get enough sleep. Wintry weather is a major factor in us constantly feeling fatigued, mainly due to a decline in fitness levels. Getting active regularly prepares your body for rest at the end of the day, meaning better quality sleep and less mood swings.

A change of scenery

As a densely populated city, very few people in London are lucky enough to own a garden. But with eight stunning royal parks in London covering 4,882 acres and all entirely open to the public, who needs one? And if we’re lucky enough to have a white Christmas this year, parks make the perfect destination for snowmen, snow-angels and of course snowball fights. Who said parks were just meant for picnics?

For more information on parks and their health benefits, follow the links below:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health-fitness/body/health-benefits-walking/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8307024.stm

https://www.groundwork.org.uk/benefits-of-green-space-uk

https://www.royalparks.org.uk/

Words: Jessica Kwan | Subbing: Chingiz Turdaliyev | All images: Pexels

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