My household has sampled several forms of separation over the past eight months: isolation, lockdown, quarantine. Much of it has been good fun; camping in the garden, bonfires, vegetable patch development, garden Olympics, badminton, sunbathing, and slack-lining. Alas, the winter months are upon us and the desire to step outside is diminishing fast.
Our 13 year old son had a period of isolation last week due to a school friend testing positive for COVID, so he spent his time mainly in his bedroom with laptop and x-box, happy enough to follow the rules and keep up with school work. Our 11 year-old daughter misses gymnastics but is pleased to be at school and seeing her friends.
Physical Activity and Nature
As Lockdown 2 ensues I am keen to maintain good exercise habits and get out when the weather allows. After joining Active Derbyshire’s Talking Space this week and listening to Dr William Bird talk about the benefits of being in nature, I’m more motivated than ever to get outside. William makes a compelling case for parks and open spaces in increasing fitness, reducing stress and anxiety and boosting our immune systems. See more here.
It also bothers me that structured sport has again paused for lockdown. Matlock Rugby Club have been stoic in maintaining training since late summer and creative in organising micro competitions within the Covid guidance. This has been a lifeline for many young people who really need an outlet for their energy – and a twice weekly boost to their physical and mental wellbeing. Without these opportunities our children will no doubt turn to screens and horizontal positions for weeks to come and the knock on effects are widely unknown.
So, this morning my husband and I hatched a plan to load flasks with soup and head into the woods as a family – complete with smiley faces and dogs in tow. Predictably this was met with sullen faces and deep resistance… “why do we have to go walking, it’s boring…… you go, we’ll stay here……it’s the weekend, I want to relax.”
Anyway, fixed on the ambition of getting out together on this sunny Saturday, we weren’t taking any excuses or dissent. “Boots on, we’re all going and it’s not negotiable.”
Slow to start
And we headed out, at snail’s pace, heals dragging, heads down “why do we have to do this?”
At this point I could happily turn back, unload the ruck sac and give in. It looked as though it was going to be a painful few hours, was it really worth it?
Yes, crack on and they will soften I thought. They’ll come round to it and we’ll be glad we went out. The dogs were enjoying running in the fields anyway and I had my face in the sun and was enjoying being outside the house.
The first mile was slow and gruelling but as time passed the mood lifted along with the silence. There was more chat, ‘when was lunch?’ and ‘how far are we going?’ along with stories of school friends and ideas for Christmas. When we stopped in the old quarry (Stig of the Dump territory) for our stand up picnic things improved again, there was a rope swing and a wall to climb as well as mountain bike tracks offering hope of another outing at some point perhaps?
Walking has no purpose
I sipped hot soup and looked around, glad to have made it into nature together. My children regularly tell me that there’s no point to walking, it’s a waste of time and they’d much rather be doing something fun. Walking up hill is even worse and verges on torture (which is why after all these years I still carry a bag of haribos in my pocket for those critical moments). Yet I love walking, I walk every day either with the dogs or with my Nordic walking poles. It’s total therapy, for me the motion of walking eases stress, sorts out worries and unravels the most complex of problems and that’s without touching on the physical benefits such as burning calories, strengthening bones, reducing blood pressure and improving digestion. Read more here
As we continued our walk out of the woods and up through the fields we noticed flowers, birds and planning notices for improvements to bridleways. We passed other walkers and runners and commented on new build architecture and allotments. We felt part of our landscape and all the better for our interaction with it for a few hours.
Home now, 8km later and indoors feels warmer, more comfortable and calmer than when we left. Time to relax, put our feet up and find a film to watch. I dared to ask if anyone had enjoyed the walk…. a resounding yes! (of course)…. Maybe we could do the same next weekend? Fingers crossed.