With the nation in the midst of a third lockdown getting out for our daily exercise has become more important than ever.

Whether it's a new priority to get out and move your body, be it because of working from home and being sat down all day or escaping the house for a moment alone, away from home schooling - exercise has become our solace. 

The benefits of being active far exceed just the physical changes your body may see. 

The emotional benefits of getting outside in the fresh air and enjoying some gentle exercise can make a huge difference to our mental health, especially for people who suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in the winter months. 

SAD is a form of depression that comes and goes with the season. As the sun sets and stays down, so does a person's mood.

However exercise releases endorphins, which are hormones that reduce pain and increase feelings of well-being. In addition, exercise increases your metabolism, which helps to improve your energy levels.

Due to the national lockdown gyms are closed and we are only permitted to leave the house for essential shopping or once daily for exercise. 

You can exercise in a public outdoor space: 

- by yourself

- with the people you live with

- with your support bubble (if you are legally permitted to form one)

- in a childcare bubble where providing childcare

- or, when on your own, with one person from another household

You don't need to start running marathons or doing circuits, but a gentle 30-minute walk is enough to see positive changes in both your mind and body whilst adhering to lockdown rules.

Here are some 30-minute walks to enjoy in Bournemouth: 

Pier to Pier:

Bournemouth Echo:

Bournemouth Pier - Pixabay

With a distance of 1.5 miles between Bournemouth and Boscombe Pier this walk is straight foward and easy on a bright sunny day due to being completely flat. 

The pier to pier walk allows you to take in the golden sandy beaches and fresh sea air which in turn will help to lift your mood and clear your head of any 'covid-fog'.

Walking on sand can help you achieve more health benefits than walking on the path as it's more difficult due to your feet moving around in the sand which means that your muscles and tendons need to work harder. 

It also puts less pressure on your joints, knees and feet than walking on a harder surface.

If you feel like walking a bit further it's always easy to do whilst  on the beach as it's a lot more enjoyable than walking in a built-up area. 

Meyrick Park:

Bournemouth Echo: A dog walker at Meyrick Park

A dog walker at Meyrick Park - Bournemouth Echo

If you fancy something a bit more challenging then walking a 1.5 mile route around one of Bournemouth's manicured public golf courses is the way to go. 

The land for Meyrick Park, previously known as Poors Common, was given to Bournemouth by Sir George Meyrick, together with four other parks, in return for common land which was enclosed. 

Meyrick Park's 18 holes take two to three hours to complete, however a short walk of a couple of holes is enough to feel all the benefits of being outside and moving your body. 

It's also a great place to walk your four-legged friends with plenty of open space and woodland areas for your dog to explore. 

Queen's Park: 

Another gorgeous golf course in the town is Queen's Park which benefits from a variety of trails for all walkers which can even be downloaded from their website in advance. 

There is a 2km green route which is mostly flat with two hills around the central pond - this takes just over half an hour to complete depending on your pace and mobility. 

Located in Springbourne and Charminster, Queen's park is dog friendly and has a variety of woodland and grass which is ideal for little ones who want to run around. 

Hengistbury Head: 

Bournemouth Echo:

Hengistbury Head - Pixabay

The iconic Hengistbury Head is a joyous walk to enjoy rain or shine - you can scale the headland for views across Christchurch Harbour or stroll through the woodland to reach Mudeford Spit. 

A site of scientific interest, Hengistbury Head has a history dating way back to the Iron Age which is enough to capture anyone's imagination. 

The full trail is 5.8km around the headland, however there are lots of loops which means that the walk can be hugely reduced to 1km or half an hour.

Hengistbury Head is a great place for bird watching with a variety of birds calling the headland home - why not spot some different species as you walk around?

There is parking on-site or it can be reached by bicycle or walking along the promenade which would take approximately two hours from Bournemouth Pier. 

Stour Valley Nature Reserve: 

Further inland, Stour Valley Nature Reserve is a two mile stretch of riverside walks home to meadows, hedgerows and woodland. 

There is an arboretum filled with interesting trees, which are labelled and form part of a trail. As well as the beautiful scenery you can see lots of wildlife, including kingfishers and sometimes even otters.

In partnership with both the coucil and RSPB the Stour Valley Nature Reserve is home to a range of animals, which can be enjoyed through the wildlife walk - the trail can be downloaded on the Stour Valley website. 

Let us know how exercise has benefitted you in the comments.