Winter Wonderlands

Posted on December 23, 2014

ID hub wonderlandsWinter wonderlands

In the winter months we spend more time indoors due to bad weather and reduced daylight hours. However, we all really need to get out more often.
Just 10 to 30 minutes of fresh air per day prompts the skin to soak up ultraviolet B rays in sunlight1 and transform it into calcium, which strengthens muscles, bones and the immune system. Plus, 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week will improve your heart health and general wellbeing. Why not brave the cold and wet conditions to explore new winter wonderlands?

Christmas markets

Britons are the biggest online shoppers in the developed world3. Each adult spends £2,180 on average per year online and tots up around eight hours 41 minutes4 a day using technology such as smartphones and laptops. Unfortunately this means we're not outdoors as much as we should be. 'Tis the season to shop, so why not switch off the gadgets and see what's on offer elsewhere?
A great place to find artisan crafters is at a Christmas market. Nearly every UK city boasts a traditional open air market meaning there's no need to dip in and out of busy high street shops. Bath Christmas Market5 for example boasts 170 stands across multiple streets around the city. This provides ample shopping opportunities in addition to a walking tour around the Roman Baths, Jane Austen's House and iconic Georgian architecture.
An afternoon of outdoor shopping will not only provide some retail therapy, it'll blow off the cobwebs and give you some exposure to natural sunlight.

Wetland adventure

Fight the instinct to hibernate and discover the wildlife facing the UK chill at the London Wetland Centre. With 100 acres of land2 to explore, the Wetland Centre is just ten minutes away from Hammersmith in central London. Visitors can walk around the lakes, ponds and gardens and try to catch a glimpse of skylarks, tawny owls and Red Admiral Butterflies. All still make an appearance at the wetlands during this frosty time of year. There's also an opportunity to explore the northern pine forest and find Santa's cosy grotto during December.
 
Woodland walks

In 1536 the German religious reformer called Martin Luther wandered through a pine forest and gazed up through the branches to see thousands of twinkling stars. This experience inspired him to decorate a tree with candles in his own home7. By December 1800 the trend had spread to the UK as Queen Charlotte erected a tree in Queens Lodge adorned in fruit and baubles.

The fascination with woodland trees continues today with eight million Christmas trees selling in the UK every year8. The fascination isn't restricted to indoor seasonal decoration however, as the UK is fortunate to have hundreds of thriving forests just waiting to be explored. This interactive map is a great resource for locating woodland walks near you.

Studies have shown that those in regular proximity to trees have lower stress levels9, are more alert10 and feel more creative11. Getting out into one of Britain's natural areas of forestry will give a boost to your mental and physical wellbeing.

When it's really rotten weather...

...There are other ways to top up your vitamin D and ensure you get enough exercise. Oily fish, such as smoked salmon, mushrooms, whole grain cereals, tofu, pork, eggs and if you're feeling flush, caviar, are great sources of vitamin D12. Try this smoked salmon and clementine recipe on Christmas morning  to keep your diet healthy and festive.

To keep your body feeling energised spend 30 minutes practising yoga. A low impact regime with dance like postures, yoga both stretches and strengthens muscles, while also burning as many as 298 calories13 per one hour session. This routine is a gentle introduction created for wintery months.

Sources

1 http://www.naturemade.com/vitamin-d-essential-for-your-good-health
2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WWT_London_Wetland_Centre
3 http://www.telegraph.co.uk//Britons-are-biggest-online-shoppers-in-developed-world
4 http://www.independent.co.uk/we-now-spend-more-time-in-front-of-a-screen-than-in-bed
5 http://www.bathchristmasmarket.co.uk/
6 http://www.christmasmarkets.com/UK/Leeds-christmas-market
7 http://www.historytoday.com/alison-barnes/first-christmas-tree
8 http://www.itv.com/oh-christmas-tree-oh-christmas-tree
9 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/trees-linked-with-human
10 http://www.rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3639
11 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/creativity-nature-unplug-recharge
12 http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/high-vitamin-D-foods.php
13 http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/
14 http://www.livestrong.com/article/115621-calories-burned-during-yoga/

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