Brits look to winter walking to boost health and wellbeing

A group of people crossing a wintery field

New statistics revealed today by the Ramblers show the value we are placing on getting fresh air and enjoying being out in nature through walking this winter. 

As we go into another festive season overshadowed by the threat of Covid-19 and other seasonal viruses, getting some fresh air is the most popular motivating reason for walking for leisure -- it was cited by seven out of ten walkers (70%), according to a poll conducted by YouGov plc exclusively for the Ramblers.

Enjoying being in nature would encourage nearly half of respondents (48.6%) to walk, and 40.1% said getting off the sofa would encourage them to do so. Nearly a third of respondents (30%) saw themselves as ‘health walkers’ who walked regularly to improve their health and wellbeing, whilst over a third (36.3%) said they walked to relax, perhaps at weekends. Only 7% said they were reluctant walkers, demonstrating just how much the British have embraced walking.

Our Walk Your Way in Winter campaign

These new statistics are released as part of our Walk Your Way in Winter campaign to encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the maximum enjoyment from walking in winter, no matter what type of leisure walker they see themselves as.

Tom Platt, Director of Advocacy and Operations for the Ramblers said: “Enjoying walking, connecting with nature, and getting fresh air are things that more of us than ever have valued since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and as we head into winter the Ramblers is here to inspire and encourage everyone to embrace the season and get the most out of being outdoors. A winter walk has proven health and wellbeing benefits, like topping up your Vitamin D levels and boosting your mood, but we know the shorter days and colder weather can make it harder to get motivated, so we’ve got lots of inspiration and tips to get everyone out enjoying winter walking.”

Embracing the elements

Our new research also found that:

  • The great British weather is the main reason we’re put off going for a walk in winter: 41.4% were deterred by the higher chance of rain, with 32.6% discouraged by the early darkness, 31% by the colder temperatures and 30% by the higher risk of ice or snow. The Ramblers is setting out to inspire people to embrace the elements; for example, the Walk Your Way in Winter ‘bingo card’ offers inspiration for stargazing strolls, and everyone’s invited to share photos of their seasonal walks on social media using the hashtag #WalkYourWay.
  • Brits do love a bit of comfort in winter -- when it came to thinking about great ways to end a wintry walk, 42.1% chose getting cosy in front of a warm fire, with grabbing a hot drink at a café coming a close second (40.1%).

a woman, wearing a Santa's hat standing at the top of a hillHelen Thomas combines working full time with leading walks and volunteering as Secretary for the Ramblers’ Tawe Trekkers group for younger walkers in Wales. She is an ardent lover of winter walking with her group, and is encouraging everyone to Walk Your Way in Winter.

She says: “I love walking in winter! For example, when there’s a hard frost the ground crunches under your feet, and I like to stop and admire the icy formations created by the freezing cold winds on blades of grass, fences and rocky crags when walking high in the Brecon Beacons. We’ve had group walks along the coast when we’ve encountered hail and winds, but being out in all weathers made us feel alive. When the sun came out, we enjoyed jumping in puddles knowing we’d soon dry out, and that once we were back home we’d have a hot shower, warm up and feel a glow in our cheeks and a great sense of achievement from enjoying the outdoors.”

Download our Walk Your Way in Winter ‘bingo card’ to get the most out of rambling your way

Find your nearest Ramblers group walk this festive season – a warm welcome awaits!