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How to find health and happiness in Hertfordshire’s wildlife

PUBLISHED: 11:58 29 January 2018 | UPDATED: 12:45 30 January 2018

Surveying for plants and animals, just one of the many opportunities available to volunteers (photo: Charlotte Hussey)

Surveying for plants and animals, just one of the many opportunities available to volunteers (photo: Charlotte Hussey)

Charlotte Hussey

Health and happiness is a walk in the park, says Charlotte Hussey, as Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust joins the Hertfordshire Year of Physical Activity

2018 is the Hertfordshire Year of Physical Activity and Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has teamed up with a number of other organisations ‘in support of making Hertfordshire the most active county.’ Around one in five adults in Hertfordshire does less than 30 minutes of activity each week, and it is hoped that the opportunities for participating in large scale events this year will help to improve this statistic. There are so many benefits from being more active in daily life, from improving your emotional and physical health, to widening your circle of friends.

Find your happy place!

Where do you love to be most? In the dappled light of a woodland, trees as far as you can see and leaves whispering in the wind? Or does the sound of gentle water calm your soul? Maybe wide open spaces with fantastic views and gorgeous flowers puts a big smile on your face? Everyone is different so have a think, visit different places, and work out what inspires you to be outside – then go there! If you love it, it won’t be a chore to be walking, jogging or volunteering outside.

Bug hunting during HMWT and Herts Natural History Society's 2017 Festival of Wildlife at Panshanger Park, HertfordBug hunting during HMWT and Herts Natural History Society's 2017 Festival of Wildlife at Panshanger Park, Hertford

Convenience is key

Look at the map on our website hertswildlifetrust.org to see just how many nature reserves there are in Hertfordshire – there’s sure to be one not far from where you live. It’s always useful to have a place to hand, so you can fit in a quick walk in a beautiful area and get the blood pumping.

A run through the woods - hard to beat for lifting the spirits (photo: Charlotte Hussey)A run through the woods - hard to beat for lifting the spirits (photo: Charlotte Hussey)

Help local wildlife

To meet like-minded people and achieve something for your local area while you’re getting healthy, consider volunteering. The trust runs work parties throughout the year when teams get together to improve habitats. Tasks range from holly clearance to hay cutting and wildlife surveying. Have a look at the website or speak to one of our reserves officers when they are out and about to find out more.

A Wildlife Trust published report last year showed that 95 per cent of volunteers who took part in nature conservation activities over 12 weeks and were identified as having poor levels of mental health at the start, reported an improvement in six weeks, which increased further over 12 weeks. Participants also reported significantly enhanced feelings of positivity, increased general health and pro-environmental behaviour, higher levels of physical activity and more contact with green space.

Get involved

If you would like to get out more and learn as you do, then come along to one of our many walking events. They are a great way to start gently moving. Our walks usually take place over a couple of hours, have a relaxed pace, and lots of fantastic information from our expert reserves officers. We also have special events such as mindfulness in the woods, so you can look after your mind as well as your body. Pick up a Go Wild events leaflet or visit the website for more information and to book.

Spice of life

Remember to visit lots of different places and vary what you’re doing to keep things exciting. A relaxed amble one day, a fast hill walk another, or even taking an ID chart out with you to learn about the wildlife around you, from birds and fungi to trees and wildflowers. Follow your passion and get active doing it!

Follow @HMWTBadger and @HertsYOPA18 on Twitter to keep up to date with events and to get involved.

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