Go Hiking: It’s Better For You Than You Thought

Not feeling healthy? Go hiking. Two new studies from the UK show that a hike, or even a good walk around the city streets, boosts mental and physical health.

A new survey by Ramblers, the British walking charity, found that a quarter of adults in Britain walk for an hour or less a week. And when they’re talking about walking, they don’t mean hitting the trails in the local nature reserve, they mean all types of walking, including walking to the shops, work or school. Presumably walking to the fridge to get another lager isn’t included. Of the more than 2,000 people surveyed, a staggering 43 percent said they walked for only two hours or less a week.

The Ramblers cites government health advisers who recommend that you get 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. Walking counts in this, and is one of the easiest ways to get fit. Not only does it reduce the risk of several physical ailments like heart disease, it reduces weight and improves mental activity and emotional well being. It also saves money on gas and public transport.
The British Heart Foundation has more details on their webpage.

Another new study shows that being outside more is more beneficial than we generally think. While many people worry about the harmful effects of the sun, a new study by Edinburgh University has found that UV rays cause the body to produce nitric oxide, a compound that reduces blood pressure. Researchers suspect that the benefits of exposure to the sun may outweigh the risks.

[Photo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources]

Four UK Museums On Shortlist For Art Fund Prize

Four UK museums have made the shortlist for the Annual Art Fund Prize. The winner will get a hefty £100,000 ($161,000) donation, most welcome in these times of economic austerity.

One of the museums, the Hepworth Wakefield, only opened a year ago and has already smashed attendance expectations by attracting half a million visitors. Located in Yorkshire, it focuses on contemporary art and has an innovative modern building design.

The Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter is housed in an elaborate Victorian building and has a broad-based collection ranging from local archaeological finds to Egyptian mummies, British watercolors and digital art. There’s also a natural history section with fossils, birds, insects and a rather intimidating tiger.

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh reopened last December after a major renovation and now features free entrance and 60 percent more space to show off all those guys in kilts. The Watts Gallery in Guildford showcases the work of famous painter G.F. Watts as well as a huge collection of Victorian photographs and temporary exhibitions of British art.

The winner will be announced on June 19.

[Top photo of Hepworth Wakefield courtesy Carl Milner]