Walking is one the most accessible forms of exercise and offers huge psychological benefits.
The positive impact walking has on the mind, body and spirit makes it a great way to escape the pressures of everyday life and improve your physical and mental health.
Walking has been proven to help you live longer and combats a variety of health conditions including diabetes, depression and anxiety. And in a society obsessed with screen time, it has never been so important to prioritise a little ‘you time’.
If your New Year’s resolution is to spend more time on your personal well being, the Wales Coast Path is home to 870 miles of walking routes that provide total escapism to revitalise the senses and boost happiness levels.
Here are just five reasons why walking promotes a healthy body and a healthy mind.
1. Hiking combats stress and refocuses the mind
When anxiety and the pressures of modern living become too much to bear, a long walk can be just what you need to refocus your mind. The Wales Coast Path offers mile-upon-mile of scenic, relaxed walking alongside the calming ocean. Doctors agree that being by the sea can have a positive impact on mental health.
Top tip: Amroth to Pendine (South Wales) - distance: 5.5 miles / 8.8 km
The Carmarthenshire Coast is a real hidden gem, home to secret coves and miles of golden sand. Embark on the route from Amroth to Pendine to refresh the senses and take in some coastal air.
2. Free, low-impact exercise for everyone
Walking gets your heart going, strengthens muscles and improves stamina. And did we mention it doesn’t cost a thing? Even a short daily walk is a form of moderate physical activity that contributes towards boosting your health and achieving the guidelines set out by the UK’s Chief Medical Officer.
Top tip: Llanmadoc to Rhossili (South Wales) - distance: 6.75 miles / 10.75 km
Log off and switch the screen for stunning coastal scenery including the world-renowned Rhossili Bay (see image right), walking the western end of the Gower passing Broughton Bay and Burry Holms island.
3. Fresh sea air is good for your body
As explained by the Lung Institute, the reason fresh sea is air is so good for us is that it contains tiny droplets of water enriched with salt, iodine, magnesium and other trace elements. It’s also full of negative ions, which help our bodies absorb oxygen. That means even a short coastal walk can have a huge positive impact on your health.
Top tip: Trefor to Nefyn (North, West Wales) - distance: 9.5 miles / 15 km
Start in the hidden seaside village of Trefor and follow the path taking in breathtaking views of the Llŷn Peninsula including the three peaks of the majestic Yr Eifl mountain.
4. Easy escapism from modern living
Modern urban living demands our constant attention, bombarding the senses with overstimulation every waking minute. Coastal walking helps you disconnect in peaceful surroundings, and to soak up the sounds of silence and truly appreciate the beauty of nature.
Top tip: Aberystwyth to Llanrhystud (Mid West Wales) - distance: 10.5 miles / 17 km
Discover dramatic coastal scenery and rare wildlife, including the hanging oak woodlands of the Penderi Cliffs, on one of the least walked sections of the Heritage Coast.
5. Hike to a good night’s sleep
Coastal walking has been proven to improve sleep quality, with studies suggesting it can lead to around an extra hour’s sleep. Research by The National Trust showcased the curative benefits of coastal walking, finding people sleep for longer after a seaside hike, compared to those who embark on an inland walk of similar length.
Top tip: Newport to Fishguard (South, West Wales) - distance: 12 miles / 19.3 km
Hike along open cliffs whilst taking in Pembrokeshire’s iconic coastline, with Newport one of the few areas you can walk sea to summit.