Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Escape the pavement: Why running in a forest is the ultimate way to improve your health and happiness

Posted: April 20, 2023 at 15:57 pm

Looking to boost your fitness while also getting in touch with nature, forest running might be just what you need. Running on a treadmill or along a road can quickly become monotonous and uninspiring, but hitting the trails in a beautiful environment, such as Westonbirt, offers many benefits for both your body and your mind. In this blog, we'll explore some of the incredible benefits of forest running and why it's worth hitting the trails over pounding those pavements.

Breathe in that fresh air

The first and most obvious benefit of running in the forest is the opportunity to breathe in fresh, clean air. Trees filter our air by absorbing carbon dioxide and other pollutants while releasing oxygen. Breathing in clean air while running can help to improve lung function allowing you to run further and faster with ease.

Running at Westonbirt Arboretum

Reduce the chance of injury

Running on softer surfaces like forest trails puts substantially less pressure on your joints, which in turn should mean fewer injuries. Running off-road also requires more balance with those added wobbles helping to build up all-important stabilising leg muscles, again aiding the prevention of injury.

Improve your personal best

Running in a forest can help improve your race time. Mixing up your training routes with some bumpy forest terrain and varied inclines is a proven way to boost your performance. A study conducted on the benefits of hill training showed that twelve weeks of hill training can significantly improve oxygen intake, resting heart rate, speed endurance and race performance in middle and long-distance runners.

Running at Westonbirt Arboretum

Positively impact your mental health

Research has shown that spending time in nature can reduce stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression. Running in a forest can be an especially effective way to boost your mood and improve your overall sense of well-being. The calming effect of the trees, the sound of birds chirping, plus the fresh scent of nature all work together to create a peaceful and relaxing environment.

Running at Westonbirt Arboretum

Improve your walking pattern

Running on uneven ground can also be a useful tool in improving your gait. Having to deal with uneven surfaces will start to force you more onto the balls of your feet in order to keep balance and have you running more like a professional in no time.

Experience nature's seasonal highlights

And finally, as if you needed reminding, a great reason to run in the forest is the variety that the ever-changing seasons bring. Every time you head out the door there is something new and different to see. Hitting a trail in winter is a totally different experience to the same trail in the peak of summer - and who wouldn’t want that to keep the enjoyment levels up?

Running at Westonbirt Arboretum

In conclusion, running in a forest offers a range of benefits for both your physical and mental health. From cleaner air to helping to improve your fitness, the natural environment of a forest can provide a much-needed break from the fast-paced demands of modern life. So why not lace up your shoes, head to Westonbirt and discover the incredible benefits of forest running for yourself? Your body and mind will thank you for it.

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