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There are lots of good reasons to be active outside...

Elderly Couple Feeding The Ducks With The Active Outdoors Logo

It's fantastic for your physical health

Being physically active is good for your health wherever you do it, but taking your activity outside brings additional benefits. Studies have suggested that walking or jogging outdoors can bring down your blood pressure and heart rate, as well as reducing the stress hormone cortisol. Fresh air helps promote good sleep, while sunshine gives you essential vitamin D. So building some outdoor activity into your routine can help you feel good and stay healthy during the Covid pandemic and beyond.

Couple jogging in park

It supports your mental health and wellbeing

Numerous studies have found that spending time in nature has a positive effect on mental health and wellbeing. Stepping out into green spaces for your walk or run gives an extra lift to your mood and increases your feelings of self-esteem. And woods, fields, and parks are great places to practise mindfulness - taking some time out of your busy schedule to relax and use your senses to reflect on your natural surroundings.

Missing meeting up with friends at work, the gym, or coffee shop? You can still meet up with one other person outdoors and being active together is a great way to reconnect with people, build relationships and reduce feelings of isolation.

Norfolk sandy beach

It's easy to maintain social distancing

Norfolk is blessed with thousands of square miles of open space, from its stunning coastline to the peaceful Broads, the big skies of the Fens, and the Breckland forests. Not to forget the many green spaces and riverside paths of the fine city of Norwich! Norfolk has about 2,400 miles of public footpaths to explore, with over 1,200 miles of walks, cycle paths and bridleways brought together in the Norfolk Trails network. So you're never far from a quiet spot where you can safely exercise while sticking to social distancing guidelines.

Child Playing in the dunes on a beach

It's free, it's always open, and it's for everyone

You don't need to buy a ticket to get outside and be active, or any special equipment apart from comfy footwear and clothing suitable for the great British weather! Whether it's a stroll with the kids to the local playground, a sunny afternoon on the beach, or a jog around the block with a friend, it's all free for you to enjoy whenever you want to.

Norfolk has many easy access paths and boardwalks which are accessible for wheelchair users and those with limited mobility, as well as families with pushchairs. See the accessible resources section below to find out more.

Mental Health Awareness Week 2021

Spending time in nature can be great for your mental health. For 2021, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is 'Nature and the environment'. Ongoing research by the mental health foundation suggests that access to nature has been one of the main ways people have supported their mental health during lockdown.

In Norfolk, we're extremely lucky to have many natural places of beauty to explore. Find places to explore below, and be sure to share your experiences during mental health week (10 - 16 March 2021).

Find inspiration and cultivate a sense of peace by connecting with nature. Download the Mental Health Foundation and WWF's free Thriving With Nature guide to make the most of the UK's natural spaces for mental health and wellbeing, all year round.

Find places to get active outdoors

People walking In the park on a cold day
Welly Boots on Fallen Leaves
  • The National Trust looks after some stunning coast and countryside in Norfolk, and some sites remain open to the public. If you're travelling by car you'll need to book and pay for parking in advance at some of them - check the website to see what's open and to book.
  • Want to get out and about on two wheels? Check out cycle routes along the Norfolk Trails, or explore 58 miles of pedalways across Norwich.
  • The GetOutside app is packed with ideas on things to do, both with the kids and if you're riding solo. It includes hidden away walking trails, and the best tested routes with coffee and cake stops on the way for that added motivation!

Find accessible places to enjoy

Norfolk Broads In Winter
Sheringham Museum
  • Norfolk Trails' Access Tested Walks include booklets with key information such as practical details and route maps and descriptions. Download them here.
  • Norfolk Easy Ambles are a series of walks that have been designed for people living with dementia to enjoy with their carers. You can download walk leaflets here for free.
  • The Norfolk Coast Partnership have selected a range of accessible for walks for everyone to enjoy the Norfolk Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Stay Safe Outdoors

Now more than ever it's important to make sure that we're all doing our bit to make being outdoors safe for everyone.

You can now exercise alone, with members of your household, or with up to 1 other person from outside your household. For more detailed guidance see the website.

Here are some useful resources to review before heading out:

More apps and resources

Build up your walking confidence

  • Motivate yourself to move more with the free NHS Active10 app. It records how much walking you're doing and sets you goals for doing more. Download it for free here.
  • Moving Medicine's 12-week My Pace Up walking programme gives you a gradual, structured approach to increasing the amount you walk each week. Download it for free here.