Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, Cllr Paulette Hamilton, hopes Birmingham’s owl invasion can encourage more people to put their best foot forward on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
You can’t fail to have noticed that Birmingham is currently playing host to dozens of giant multicoloured owls. And, as well as looking beautiful, I’m convinced the 89 Big Hoot sculptures can provide a health boost by encouraging more people to walk around our wonderful city.
The owls are located across the city and you can follow the trail from the city centre to Sutton Coldfield; Winson Green to Bournville and many places in between.
Best of all, you have to get off the couch to see these wonderful owls in their full glory – I’m assured there are no plans for an XBox version of the trail!
You can pick up a copy of The Big Hoot Trail Map from The Owltlet in the Great Western Arcade, the Fundraising Hub at Birmingham Children’s Hospital, New Street Travel Centre and many other outlets around the city.
If the owls aren’t your thing (though I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t love them), I would still encourage more people to consider walking as part of a healthier lifestyle. And Birmingham is a great walking city.
Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. It’s underrated as a form of exercise, but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active.
Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, asthma, stroke and some cancers. Walking can also help to improve your mental health – just being in the outdoors in green natural spaces is beneficial to your mental health and active people have a reduced risk of suffering clinical depression. So, in addition to the Big Hoot Trails, what are your other walking options in Birmingham?
Build walking into your daily life
Deliberately park your car further away from the shops or get off the bus a stop or two early.
Join a ParkLives walk
You could try Nordic walking at Cofton park on Wednesdays at 10am or Holders Lane & Pebble Mill Fields (Thursday 10am). There are loads more FREE ParkLives walks here: www.parklives.com/activities?CouncilId=2&postcode=&SelectedActivityIds=47&SelectedDate=07%2F28%2F2015
A walk in the park
In addition to the ParkLives and Active Parks sessions, there are plenty of walking routed in our wonderful parks here: www.birmingham.gov.uk/walks
Walk more at work
Take a break from your computer every hour for a short stroll – even a short break to stretch your legs has been shown to be better than nothing.
Led Walking at the Lickey Hills
Or you could join the Lickey Hills Led Walking Group every Thursday at 10.30am. Led by the Rangers and the Lickey Hills Society, the walk also offers a great opportunity to learn about the history of the area. www.beactivebirmingham.co.uk/active-parks/lickey-hills-country-park
Make walking a regular family activity
The easiest way to walk more is to make walking a habit and going for a stroll with family or friends after dinner is a good way to get started.
Join a Healthy Walk
There are also regular ‘Healthy Walks’ with the brilliant Walking for Health, including this City Centre Walk every Friday (1pm) www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/content/birmingham-city-centre-walk
Use the stairs where possible
A study by the European Society of Cardiology suggests that taking the stairs rather than the lift can reduce your risk of premature death by 15% and is likely to reduce your waistline also.
In conclusion, there are loads of opportunities to include walking in your daily routine and you really will feel the benefit.
So, what are you waiting for? Get walking.