Walking in Wales

This article was originally published in the North Wales Weekly News on 28 August 2017.
One of the more arresting pieces of information to be found in last week’s newspapers was that, in our sedentary age, millions of Britons are failing to conduct a brisk ten-minute walk even once a month.
The recommended level of exercise for adults is at least 150 minutes of “moderate intensity activity” each week, but even 10 minutes’ walking a day can produce health benefits including increased fitness, improved mood, increased leanness, a healthier weight and a 15 per cent reduction in the risk of dying prematurely.
Members of Parliament are not normally regarded as among the fittest specimens of the population, but simply being in the Palace of Westminster necessitates a surprising amount of physical activity. The Parliamentary estate is vast: the Palace itself contains almost three miles of corridors, as well as dozens of steep flights of stairs. According to the health app on my iPhone, I usually walk around five miles a day, including the journey to and from my flat.
On the face of it, therefore, I would seem to be conducting the recommended level of exercise, but I strongly suspect that any health benefits from my daily walks are largely negated by breathing the pollution-laden air of the London streets.
One of the joys of the Parliamentary recess (soon coming to an end) is that it enables me to enjoy the clean air of North Wales and take advantage of the many opportunities for physical exercise that our area presents. Last week, for example, I visited the Woodland Trust’s Coed y Gopa site in Abergele. The 117 acre wood dominates the town and is one of a number of ancient woodlands impeccably maintained by the Trust in North Wales. Visiting it was a delight, and it was particularly good to see how many local residents, frequently accompanied by their dogs, were walking the trails that lead to the pre-Roman fort on the summit.
A walk in Coed y Gopa goes a long way toward fulfilling the prescribed level of physical activity. Equally importantly, it feeds the soul. I strongly recommend it.

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