Written by Wayne Singleton - Jogging Pals

Research shows that being in nature is great for our physical, emotional and spiritual health. How does being out in the landscape make you feel?

That's the exam question. I'm not sure I'll answer it. And I might ramble a bit, or a lot. But hopefully it'll explain some of what I feel when I'm outdoors, and just maybe you'll be inspired to get out yourself....

I've been a Cumbrian resident most of my life. I was born here, schooled here, and started my career here. But it was only after working away, then returning, that I realised what a truly incredible place it was. Since then, I've fallen more and more in love, and in awe, of the place I call home.

I use the word 'awesome' a lot. But the Lake District truly is awesome. I often get frustrated by tourists driving slowly down our roads (lanes!) looking at the sights, but I shouldn't. It's often, probably weekly, that I am reminded why they're looking, and why they drive so slowly, and I guess all of that is the reason I now enjoy getting out and about, and encourage others to do the same.

I find being on the fells, or indeed IN the lakes (swimming, so I do mean IN!), really therapeutic. It's a real opportunity for me to switch off, and find some peace, particularly from technology, due to the lack of mobile signal – and I guess it's now one of the few places in the country with little to no signal. Helping others to get out and find this peace or therapy has become quite important to me and my friends and colleagues – particularly through Jogging Pals, a company we set up to help people get into running through couch to 5k programmes. Increasingly we've seen the positive impact on people's Mental Health (deliberate capitals for emphasis there!), as well as the impact on physical health. So much so, that we're all Mental Health Ambassadors for England Athletics and we are increasingly doing #RunAndTalk sessions where we encourage people to talk about their mental health and get things off their chest or share a problem. Through all of this, I've been really privileged to share some life changing moments with people, running in places like Kentmere, trails above Troutbeck or just the old canal towpath around Kendal! These moments have come as a result of people having the time to think through problems, to switch off from their usual daily grind, and resolve some of the issues they may have been facing.

It gives me a huge sense of pride to see people making positive changes to their lives by getting out more. It also gives a massive sense of elation as they achieve something they never thought possible – whether that's running 5k non-stop or running (or walking) up a hill they've never managed before and really getting out of their comfort zone.

A lot of positive emotion comes from being outside your comfort zone. The physical side can be challenging too! After being at Hoad Festival of Two Feet all day, my feet smelt of wet dog: a wet dog that died some days ago; that started to be consumed by a rat that died and climbed inside the dead dog to die in tur! Whilst it's terrifying at first, being up a mountain, or being in a river or a lake (I'm assured there are no sharks in Windermere, but I dispute that), it helps us develop and realise what we're capable of. I'm a big fan of a quote that is apparently wrongly attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day which scares you”. Over time, you'll become less scared by that thing, and your comfort zone will have shifted. However, if we spend all our time in our comfort zone (or the sofa!), much in life will scare us. It's an incredibly life affirming thing to do something with others who are all a little scared too. We regularly have people put faith in us to lead them into scary situations, and it's amazing to see their reaction and emotion before, during, and after. Particularly the buzz of exhilaration and excitement on faces on the way back to cars.

I've recently been on a Leader's Landscape session with Friends of the Lake District and the National Park Authority, where we walked for a number of hours talking about the reasons behind the World Heritage inscription. There were all number of questions that arose for me, some of which went unasked, or unanswered, but that aside, my overwhelming feeling was that of inspiration. I could feel the inspiration behind the works of Coleridge and Wordsworth, and what in turn inspired them to help protect our landscape. I was inspired by the history of the place I live and work, and those who have over history done the same – Vikings, Romans, farmers and miners to attach just a number of labels. I was inspired by the people I was with and their love and emotion for the place we live. Inspired to find out more, and inspired to share the knowledge that I have. Most of all though I was inspired to share all of that with others, and encourage more people (particularly Cumbrians!) to explore more of our county, and instil a sense of pride in us all.

Go on. Get out of your comfort zone. Do one thing today which scares you a bit. Because at the very least, doesn't all of that make the pint and chips taste better at the end of the day?