The practice is a growing trend 

Whether you’re a dedicated runner or considering starting from scratch, you’ve likely weighed up the benefits of hitting the treadmill at the gym or taking to the outdoors. 

As trail running gains popularity, with Google searches of the term rising, a recent survey of runners has revealed that 88 per cent agree that the practice improves their mental as well as physical health, and helps to combat negative emotions.

A further 40 per cent said trail running was a form of therapy for them. 

Trail running involves participants running over grass, woodland, beaches or any other natural outdoor environment. All forms of running are proven to reduce the risk of chronic diseases, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and stroke, according to the NHS.

Health psychologist and Manchester Metropolitan University lecturer Dr Eric Brymer is researching how engaging with the natural environment during exercise can have health benefits. 

He said: “There’s a growing body of research on ‘green exercise’ that shows the simple pleasure of connecting to the natural world can put you in an optimal frame of mind and reduce the risk of poor mental health.”

A survey of 4,904 runners by retailer SportsShoes.com also found that runners in the gym were more likely to not exercise, citing reasons including being “too tired” and lacking motivation. 

However, almost a third of trail runners reported that they felt there were no barriers to exercise, suggesting that it is easier to stick at trail running once you get started. Interestingly, the same number of treadmill runners and trail runners said bad weather was their barrier to exercise. 

And those who are put off by the wintry weather shouldn’t ignore their other options, Hayley Madigan, a personal trainer and professional athlete with the Worlds Natural Bodybuilding Federation (WNBF) told The Independent

She advises working out at lunch time; trying short High Intesnity Training Workouts; going to the gym with a friend; and trying different activities to stay fit during the winter. 

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