Best foot forward

Image credit: Levoqd

It’s a glorious spring day: the birds are singing and the sky is blue. The warm sun shines its tantalisingly sweet rays on your back. But it’s Easter term. And you are stuck at your desk revising. Again.

Taking your books outdoors may seem like a simple solution, but it is one which belongs to an idyllic world. In this picture-perfect setting, I laze on daisy-speckled grass, reading a vintage copy of Pride and Prejudice and sipping fresh lemonade. Reality, unfortunately, offers a very different experience of such ‘academia alfresco’. Instead of relaxed study, I become frustrated as the bugs crawl between my books, my notes are ruffled by the wind, and the sunrays glare on my laptop screen, which I eventually snap shut before storming back to the library in a huff.

Studying beneath the sun is clearly not an option, so I suggest instead that you enjoy the spring weather by going for a walk. Yes, it may seem like something a character out of my Austen novel would do, but taking a stroll outdoors is one of the best things you can do for your head and your health. Despite living in a busy city, we are fortunate to have an array of scenic walks right on our doorstep. Don’t just take my word for it; The Guardian claims that Cambridge is "strikingly good-looking", with its "gorgeous architecture and…riverside setting [making] a walk here a pleasure any time of year". I say that testing out their hypothesis is the perfect excuse to take a break from those books!

Furthermore, walking has numerous benefits for your physical health. Taking a regular brisk walk has been shown to reduce the risk of illnesses such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, asthma, and even some cancers. It is also an effective way to justify those study snacks we seems to get through alarmingly quickly at this time of year, with a 30-minute walk at 4mph burning 150 calories (the equivalent of three Jaffa cakes and one jam doughnut!).

Psychologists also believe in a strong correlation between walking and mental wellbeing. It is a natural energiser, boosting the body’s circulation by increasing the flow of oxygen to cells, which will help you to feel more alert. And, let’s face it, this term we need every pick-me-up we can get! Moreover, both exercise and the sun release mood-boosting endorphins, help to relieve anxiety, and have even been proven to be as effective as medication in treating cases of depression.

The benefits don’t stop there: replacing the gym with Nature’s treadmill will allow you to avoid hefty membership fees, it is entirely carbon-neutral, and must be one of the only forms of exercise you can do anywhere, at any time. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s embrace walking and join the Bennet sisters in "a walk to Meryton … to amuse [the] morning hours and furnish conversation for the evening"!

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