For many of us, we spend most of our time in work, under fluorescent lights and in an air-conditioned environment, only to go home and sit in front of even more screens. However, research has shown that getting outdoors, being active and breathing in the fresh air can have wonderful health benefits for the mind and the body.

Fortunately, the West Highland Way has 96-miles of natural beauty, wild landscapes and fresh Scottish Highland’s air to help you feel like the best version of yourself. So here are just a few reasons why you should get outside and embrace the outdoors.

IMPROVES MOOD

Did you know that getting outdoors for a walk can significantly improve your mood? A study conducted in the UK found that regular exercise outdoors helps to improve mood, and thus, walking can help to reduce anxiety, depression and stress. This is largely owing to genetics as we are programmed to find nature captivating which acts as a pleasant and welcome distraction for overactive minds. A survey, conducted by Mind, discovered that a whopping 95% of people claimed their mood improved after spending time outside.

HEALTHY HEART

A healthy heart is a happy heart so help your heart feel great by getting out on the trail and enjoy some nature walking.

As you exercise and move around, your heart will beat faster in order to pump blood around the body faster. Walking can help strengthen your heart muscle so it becomes accustomed to beating quicker, and it will require less effort to do so. In turn, your blood pressure level will decrease. Walking can also help reduce cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease.

HAPPY BODY

It may be the last thing you want to do, but walking can help ease joint pain. Walking, and most physical exercises, help to strengthen our bones and muscles which helps improve overall endurance levels and helps to prevent injuries. Walking also helps to relieve pressure from joints, improves balance and overall health.

If you do suffer some aches and pains, it’s best to consult your healthcare practitioner before undertaking the West Highland Way. Our top tips for walking the West Highland Way includes stretching before and after a day on the trail, and to get yourself a pair of quality walking shoes which are both comfortable and supportive.

BRAIN POWER

A tried and tested way to boost your brain-power is by walking. Over the years, there have been numerous studies on the positive effects of aerobic exercise on cognitive function with results indicating that people who participated in walking performed better on tests with improved reaction times.

Not only can walking improve cognitive brain function, but it can also help with memory. Walking, however brief, can increase the size of your hippocampus, the area of the brain that is responsible for creating and storing memories. Being active outdoors is also a great way to clear your head and promote the flow of creative juices – perfect for those suffering from writer’s block!

WEIGHT LOSS

Like most physical activities, walking can help with weight loss. By exercising, your body’s metabolic rate increases which burn fat as energy to keep you going. As a guide, if you do 30 minutes of brisk walking, you could burn around 200 calories, but if you walk further or at a quicker pace, you’ll burn off even more calories – some of which is from stored fat.

With 96-miles of glorious landscapes and walking trail to surround yourself with, the West Highland Way is the perfect place to absorb all these wonderful benefits to help you feel like the best version of yourself.