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Get trim in the trees: The health and well-being benefits of walking your dog in the arboretum

Make a resolution to get fit that you and your dog can stick to this New Year with the help of the Forestry Commission at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum. 
With special guided walks for dogs and their owners on offer from 12 January, and great value Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum membership to give you access to the arboretum throughout 2014, it is time for you and your dog to get trim in the trees.

Westonbirt Arboretum has miles of paths and trails throughout dog-friendly Silk Wood, offering everything from easy-going strolls to more demanding physical challenges for dogs and owners.

Taking your dog for a long walk through the arboretum is a great way to get your heart beating faster.

Couple walking in the arboretum with their dog. Credit Pete Thompson/Forestry Commission


Simple steps such as a brisk walk in the trees will help prevent cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity whilst improving fitness levels for you and your dog alike. Recreation in natural surroundings is also good for our mental wellbeing. If every household in England had access to quality green space, an estimated £2.1 billion in healthcare costs could be saved.

Simon Hough, the Forestry Commission's recreation manager at Westonbirt Arboretum, says:

"Dogs love to exercise in natural environments - just seeing them enjoy the freedom of running around in a green space can often be enough to spur you on too.

"Jogging under the leafy canopy reconnects you with nature and the fresh air and the stunning scenery of the National Arboretum makes a nice change from a stuffy exercise hall."

For nearly 10 years, the Forestry Commission has worked in partnership with the Kennel Club to inspire people to find new and exciting ways to get fit with their dogs in woodlands.

Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, says:

"With the rising levels of obesity in the human population being mirrored in the dog population and with too many people admitting that they don't take their dogs for a daily walk, 2014 is the perfect time to change old habits and get fit with Fido.

"We urge people to visit Westonbirt Arboretum for healthy bonding time with their dogs."

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum members get access to the arboretum for themselves and their dog for a whole year - for less than the average cost of one month's gym membership.

So this year, do yourself and your dog a favour and get trim in the trees with the Forestry Commission and Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum.

For more information, visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-dogs

Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains around 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk/england

The Forestry Commission works in partnership with the Kennel Club which is the largest organisation in the UK devoted to dog health, welfare and training. Its objective is to ensure that dogs live healthy, happy lives with responsible owners. The Kennel Club runs a Get Fit With Fido campaign to help people find inspiring ways to get fit with their dogs. www.thekennelclub.org.uk/getfitwithfido
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum membership ranges from £28 - £32 for single adult annual membership. For more information visit www.fowa.org.uk/become_a_member

The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity's objects are to support the National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at www.fowa.org.uk

Defra (2010) Valuing the Overall Impacts of Air Pollution. Cited in Defra (2011) The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature. Natural Environment White Paper. Norwich: The Stationary Office, 2011.

Walkies! Events will take place at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum on the following dates in 2014:
Sunday 12 Jan
Wed 22 Jan
Sunday 9 Feb
Sunday 23 Feb
Sunday 9 March
Wed 19 March
Sunday 6 April
Visitors will meet their experienced volunteer guide at Skilling Gate at 11am. For more information visit: www.forestry.gov.uk/forestry/INFD-9E9DMQ

Source: Westonbirt: The National Arboretum

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