What's the secret to staying young? Quite simply, it's stay active. And there is nowhere better for being active than the forest. Find out how you can combine a relaxing holiday with the benefits of being active.
Forestry Commission England look after the nation's forests and they are keen to encourage as many of us as possible to enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of these wonderful outdoor spaces with their Stay Active campaign.
Stay Active brings together suggestions for things to do in the forest, special events and, excitingly, a competition to win £500 to spend on a Forest Holiday (that's us!) and a FitBit Alta activity tracker, courtesy of Cotswold Outdoors.
Here are some tips to make you feel young…
1. Try new things
Developing new skills and hobbies keeps you sharp. The forest is a great place to try something new and keep active at the same time. How about off-road cycling, foraging for mushrooms or Nordic walking? Get started at one of the Forestry Commission England Stay Active cycling events this autumn or look for the events at your local forest.
How about an autumn break in the forest? You can hire bikes or Segways and wind your way around the woodland trails, try your hand at archery or spend time on a Forest Ranger adventure, knowing that when you get back to your cabin you can relax in your hot tub beneath the trees.
2. Get outdoors to gain strength and confidence
With miles of accessible paths, wildlife hides, midweek events and discounted bike hire, staying active in Forestry Commission woods and forests is a great way to feel healthier and stronger. Aerobic exercise also helps to improve your self-esteem and confidence.
On a Forest Holiday, you can extend your outdoor adventures as far as you dare, from kayaking on rivers and lochs to climbing up mountains and flying down zip wires. Find out more about our adventure holidays.
3. Stay active, stay healthy
According to research by the NHS, people who are active have a lower risk of heart disease, strokes, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, depression, and dementia. Staying healthy and leading an active lifestyle also helps to stimulate our appetite, boost our metabolism, strengthen our muscles and bones (reducing the risk of falls and fractures) and ease any day to day discomforts.
It's not just physical benefits either. Mind, the mental health charity, commissioned two studies with the University of Exeter in 2007. They found that participating in "green exercise" (gardening, walking and outdoor exercise) has an emphatic impact on our mental wellbeing.
Visit the forest this week to enjoy the colours of autumn and improve your physical and mental well-being.
4. Explore new places
Book a Forest Holiday and, as well as enjoying the forest, you can and explore new places in the UK. Visit the historic town of Winchester when you stay at Blackwood Forest, learn about the nearby underground caves when you stay at Forest of Dean or enjoy a ramble through the magnificent Scottish landscape in Strathyre or Ardgartan Argyll. All these new experiences are pleasurable ways to keep yourself young and active.
5. Keep learning
You are never too old to learn and keeping your brain active is crucial to feeling young, happy and healthy. On a Forest Holiday, the best way to do this is to accompany your Forest Ranger on an adventure. Whether it's Survival Skills, Forest Explorer, or Night Vision you will see the forest through new eyes and learn all about the animals and plants that make it the amazing place it is.
6. Free your inner child
Feel young by rediscovering your natural childhood. Enjoy the great outdoors with no agenda. Kick through autumn leaves, build dens, look for signs of forest animals. Pack a picnic and explore for the sake of exploring. Take a cycle ride to nowhere in particular, lean back and watch the shapes made by the clouds. Immerse yourself in the moment and see how good it feels.
Don't forget to enter the Forestry Commission England competition and, who knows, you might start your forest fitness programme in a luxury cabin beneath the trees. If you don't want to leave it to chance, book now for your autumn break and stay young and active in style. Good luck!