Getting out into nature with your little one

By Wendy, Running coach

We all just need some fresh air…. A phrase which has been repeated (perhaps through gritted teeth) over hundreds of years in households, all over the world, because humans need air, sunlight and movement to feel good. Being around nature makes people happier. Studies have shown that being close to a water source lifts people’s moods. Gazing at clouds and greenery has also been shown to improve mental well-being. Exercising in nature also has greater benefits over exercising in more artificial environments.

However, when sleep deprived, you can often crave inactivity, caffeine and sugar to get through the day. As a mum of two girls, I have been there, but I have found a few things I wanted to share with you which help me get out the door.

The first is a buggy which can handle the terrain. I love to run with my children in a buggy because it’s the perfect way to multitask so many elements: nap time, getting Vitamin D, exercise, errands etc. I’ve done this since they were 6 months old and am passionate that this can unlock freedom for parents again. But what is an all-terrain or running buggy?

5 features to look for in a running buggy:

1) A front wheel which has the option to lock OR a front wheel which is permanently fixed (i.e. doesn't swivel). This is a safety measure and ensures when you are travelling at speed, the buggy stays moving forward in a straight line.

2) A minimum of 16-inch rear wheels and wheels with inflatable tyres (like a bike). This creates a smooth ride for your baby and makes it easier for you to push. Don’t be worried about punctures, they are easy to patch or you can get affordable replacement inner tubes.

3) Suspension. Takes the majority of the impact out of the ride, making it more comfortable.

4) Weight of the buggy. The lighter the buggy, the easier it is to push. Which gets handy when you are pushing a 4 year old.

5) Handbrake. Most running buggies have this now. It is designed to slow you down when running downhill, much like a brake on a bike. Especially useful with a double buggy, which has some weight pulling away from you, or if you live in a hilly area.

Where to go?

Look for local parks or nature reserves which enable you to be around trees. If you are new to an area then just ask local people or your Facebook community group. Public footpaths are marked on OS maps (there is now an app) but there can be stiles or gates as barriers so bike paths are a good option. Many lakes or rivers have paths alongside them and ParkRun has many routes which are an option, so take a look at their website too. Strava is a great app for tracking activity and can help you get ideas for run routes either by following local runners or taking up the Strava suggested route.