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

hiking, walkingNot 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]

Woman killed by cows serves as warning to walkers

killed by cowsA woman has been trampled and killed by cows yesterday on the outskirts of Cardiff, Wales, the South Wales Echo reports.

Marilyn Duffy, 61, was walking her dog through a farmer’s field. It’s believed the cows were frightened by the dog and attacked. Cows are calving at this time of year and can become easily frightened by dogs or even lone people. Farmers say it’s best to give cows a wide berth and if they come at you and your dog to let your dog go. The cows will generally chase after the dog and the dog can easily get away.

Since many public footpaths in the UK pass through farmers’ fields, this incident serves as a warning for walkers planning on enjoying the countryside.

I myself was nearly attacked by cows. While hiking the Hadrian’s Wall Path two years ago, the path took me over a stile into a field and up a low rise. When I get to the top I saw a large herd of cows and their calves standing not twenty yards away. The rise had hidden them from view until I was almost upon them.

The biggest one started bawling with a noise that sounded like a mixture of a moo and a roar. I backed away as the cows lined up between me and the calves. More of the herd started mooing angrily and cows from other parts of the field started converging on me. I moved quickly but calmly away, which is the best thing to do with an angry animal that isn’t actually attacking. They held their ground, still braying, and the rest of the herd joined them to make a long line facing me. Even after I got a couple of hundred yards away they still turned their line to face me as I went the long way around the field. If they had moved closer, I would have hopped the fence, even though it had barbed wire on it.

At the other end of the field was another stile with a sign saying, “COWS WITH CALVES. ENTER WITH CAUTION”. Farmers are supposed to put up signs like this, but they’re supposed to put them up on all entrances to their fields. It’s not clear from the news reports if the field where Marilyn Duffy was killed had warning signs.

[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons]