Just under an hour’s drive from home is the beautiful Brecon Beacons National Park. In attempts to keep in good health and get in shape, I often plan trips to the various walks, trails and hikes in the spectacular local scenery. I headed to the area known as Waterfall Country where an unusually large number of publicly accessible falls are to be found.
On bank holiday Monday, I stopped in Ystradefellte at the Cwm Porth car park (£4 for the day). Ystradfellte is a small village, which won Powys Village of the Year in 2004. It is a top-rated stop off for tourists to visit the waterfalls and caves. In previous visits, I have seen groups coasteering and caving. It has a small 16th Century church and pub, and post office which is only open for 2 hours a day Monday-Friday.
The lush wooded valley landscape is a moderate to advanced walk that takes in the picturesque scenery and waterfalls. For those who are overweight or out of shape, it really is a great aerobic exercise. Hiking boots are not essential; however, I would recommend a good pair of trainers as there is uneven terrain and some steep steps.
I was intrigued to know if walking could improve your body shape, or help lose or reduce belly fat. Upon doing the research, I learnt that walking is a good starting point for anyone looking to begin an exercise program and is a staple for many who exercise frequently. Like cardiovascular exercise, walking burns calories. So moving more, and getting your legs moving can help with weight loss, getting toned and tightened your figure. As fitness levels improve, you can walk for longer and at a faster pace. Adding intensity such as adding hills will also improve your physique – so yes, hiking can help you lose weight and tone your body.
Walking in nature is also a great way to help with mental health. City dwellers (so… me!) also have a higher risk for anxiety, depression and other illnesses than people living outside urban areas. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality. In older people, staying active can improve cognitive function, and memory can reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.
I would highly recommend those living in South Wales or from further afield Visiting Brecon to explore the area. With fascinating scenery including hills, lakes, caves, forests and of course the waterfalls there is so much to discover. Especially the plentiful towns and villages with characterful country pubs, which are always my favourite part of the visit.