Mid and East Antrim Borough Council is encouraging everyone to get outdoors this winter and enjoy some exercise as part of their Hearty Walks programme.
MEA Mayor, Councillor Billy Ashe said: “Studies have shown that people get a boost to their health and well-being when they have good access to green spaces in their own communities.
“We are proud to say we have fantastic green spaces in the borough – all the better to get out and enjoy them this winter.
“Now, and especially after the festive season, burn off the extra Christmas calories and kick-start your New Year’s resolutions while improving your physical and mental health.”
There are additional benefits to walking in natural environments, such as parks, woods and other green spaces.
“Research has indicated that regular exercise can help to boost the immune system, so as to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months,” Cllr Ashe added.
The National Environmental Education Foundation found that walking in nature can have a positive effect on depression, memory, creativity and problem solving skills.
Ann Doherty, Hearty Lives Co-Ordinator and Walk Leader, explained: “Walking can help reduce your risk of heart disease.
“It can also help you control your weight, reduce blood pressure and cholesterol and improve your mental health – helping you to look and feel great.
“Christmas can be a challenging time for stress levels, but physical activity, such as a brisk walk, releases the feel-good endorphins which help you relax, feel happy and boost your mood.”
Celebrate winter walking:
Sunday 6 December, Carrickfergus Mill Ponds, 10.30am-11.30am
Sunday 10 January, Blackhead Path, Whitehead, 2.30pm-3.30pm
Sunday 24 January, Bashfordsland Wood, Carrickfergus, 10.30am-11.30am
Sunday 14 February, Marine Gardens, Carrickfergus, 2.30pm-3.30pm
Walks will be led by trained walk leaders. Pedometers will be available for walkers to count their steps.