Column: Don’t give up this New Year - get outside instead!

Country Walk  Pic: Zsuzsanna Bird
Country Walk Pic: Zsuzsanna Bird
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New Year resolutions always seem to be about giving things up.

What a miserable way to start the year! This year, why not choose to add the joy of nature to your life?

There are so many benefits to being in green spaces and taking notice of the natural world. It’s not just good for your physical health; it also gives your mental wellbeing a real boost.

It’s a great thing to do with the kids too – a recent poll shows that most children really enjoy time seeing the wilder side of life. Take them out for a walk on a local nature reserve; Greno Woods and Blacka Moor are great places for birdwatching. Have a go at being nature detectives together – winter weather is great for making it easier to spot tracks and trails.

You don’t have to buy a load of equipment to make the most of what is all around us. Simply feeding the birds will really help them through this cold season and pretty much guarantee you regular visitors to your garden. Make sure you leave some fresh water they can access too, especially when all their usual natural sources are frozen solid.

A decent pair of walking boots will serve you well for all locations, but even a pair of comfortable shoes or trainers is all you need to enjoy some of the less challenging terrain. A weekly or daily walk round your local green space can be really illuminating. You get a real feel for seasonal changes; the first snowdrops, the birds busy nesting, bright daffodils. And there’s another benefit – a good long walk surely burns off enough calories to enjoy the odd chocolate biscuit guilt free.

This year, my resolution is to get out more, and improve the range of plants I can identify for use in my foraging adventures. And I’m going to start now, by finding those plants I can already recognise easily in full bloom, and learning to see them in their winter guise. The Trust is running a free winter tree and bird ID walk which I think will be very helpful.

If after all this you really think you should still join a gym, why not help us out with practical works on our reserves? Unlike a gym membership, it’s completely free, and you can see the difference you have made instantly. Just join us for an hour or stay all day. You’ll get an all-round physical workout and a good laugh with the teams, in some of the best scenery in the country.

Visit www.wildsheffield.com/whats-on to find details of all upcoming courses and volunteer workdays to find out more about how you can get involved in 2017.