A new year has begun. It's time to get the family up and out and start the year with fresh air, exercise and lots of fun. It's time for some forest fitness!
How are your new year's resolutions going? Still on course to lose that weight, get fit and be happy? Still planning to be a perfect parent with happy, healthy children? If you are already flagging, here's the boost you may need with our guide to getting fit and staying healthy, the forest way.
1. Forest Fit
Did you know, if you live in England you are almost certainly less than half an hour's drive from Forestry Commission England woodland? Swap your expensive gym pass for a Discovery Pass at a fraction of the cost, and feel the wind in your hair, the earth beneath your feet, the sun on your face. Your Discovery Pass gives you free parking and discounts on forest activities such as Go Ape and Forest Holidays.
Now, look up Forestry Commission England's Forest Fit campaign, which offers a wealth of ideas on how to get fit in the forest, from cycling and running to just having fun with the children.
The forest is ideal for getting the children out and exercising. In a recent study, Britain's youngsters were found to be some of the least active in the world. If we were to design a solution to the problem today, it would look remarkably like a forest!
2. Family fun in the forest
Fitness in the forest can be as simple as a family day out. With so much to keep little heads full of excitement and curiosity, little legs cover kilometres without even noticing. The forest becomes a playground where the possibilities are endless and the fresh air and exercise benefit all the family.
Or stay at one of our forest locations and watch the children play. Our Forest Ranger adventures are perfect for burning energy and learning new skills too. Accompany the little ones on a Mini Forest Ranger session and be surprised at how much you learn yourself. Or get the family onto a Forest Survival session, where you can build dens and fires and explore the woods.
3. Run forest run
Step off the boring old treadmill and run free in the forest. You will find different terrains to help with agility and balance, wind resistance to build strength and miles and miles of trails to build your stamina. Forestry Commission England has some suggested trails for running off those Christmas calories.
There is a wealth of running resources on the Forestry Commission England website, with easy runs for beginners up to wild running trails for serious runners. There’s even a six week plan you can sign up to, called run forest run. That gives you a much better chance of sticking to those new year resolutions!
4. The therapeutic forest
Did your new year resolution list include something about being happier? Forests are increasingly being recognised as good for your well-being as well as your health. Getting out as a family has major benefits, not least keeping children connected to nature in an increasingly technology-driven world.
Enjoy shinrin yoku, a Japanese practice which translates as forest bathing. It's simply immersing yourself in the natural environment of the forest and tuning in to it. It will soothe your mind, reduce stress and make you feel energised and happy, Try it!
5. Cycle Happy
If you are happier on two wheels than two feet, the forest is the place to do your cycling. With everything from gentle trails for families and beginners to extreme trails for skilled adrenaline junkies, it's 2,500 km of cycle heaven.
Cycle Happy is Forestry Commission England’s family cycling initiative which is full of tips and advice on how to get started. There are some great activity sheets to put some fun into your adventures.
If you are staying on a Forest Holiday, there are cycling trails at all our cabin locations, most can be picked up from outside your cabin and you can hire bikes from us too.
6. Enjoy a Forest Holiday
Talking of Forest Holidays, why not put those gym savings towards a pleasurable treat. Our nine UK locations are all situated on Forestry Commission land. Some, such as Deerpark and Sherwood Forest, are hidden deep in the forest and others, such as Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre enjoy enviable loch-side positions.
Along with the Forest Ranger adventures, there are forest trails, cycle routes, and a host of energising activities, from canoeing down the Wye at Forest of Dean to flying down the Zipwire at Keldy. You can do as much…or as little… as you desire, and when the day's adventures are over, you can cosy up with the family in your cabin and award yourself a great big tick against those new year resolutions.