Canal visit could be just what the doctor ordered

It’s official – visiting the Wey & Arun Canal can reduce your stress levels. Scientists have discovered that spending between 20 and 30 minutes among nature could cut levels of the stress hormone cortisol by about 10%.

An American study led by Dr MaryCarol Hunter released last week found that taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to stroll or sit in a place that makes you feel in contact with nature will significantly lower your stress hormone levels.

“We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” Dr Hunter said. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”

The Wey & Arun Canal provides miles of tranquil towpath for visitors to explore, with picnic benches and seating placed to enjoy the West Sussex and Surrey scenery to its full. The Trust also offers a series of free downloadable short walks from its website.

Getting close to the nature couldn’t be easier at the recently created Hunt Nature Park in Shalford, either, where a viewing platform provides the perfect opportunity to sit and watch wildlife in its natural habitat.

For the ultimate in relaxation, boat trips run from the Trust’s visitor centre in Loxwood, West Sussex, every weekend, with special trips operating during the school holidays. For more on booking cruises and how to make the most of the Wey & Arun Canal, go to www.weyandarun.co.uk.

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