What would Gentleman Jack say?

Lauren takes a breather to enjoy the views from Shibden Hall 

A grand workout spot - Lauren takes a breather to enjoy the views from Shibden Hall - Credit: Lauren Jagger

Lauren Jagger has spent the past 14 years working worked in health, fitness and education in the UK and Fiji – but she reckons there’s no place like the Yorkshire landscape for a great workout....and Shibden Hall is one of her go-to spots https://museums.calderdale.gov.uk/visit/shibden-hall

If you’re looking to get fit and healthy this year then you don’t need to look any further than God’s own country of Yorkshire. It’s the perfect fitness playground to get your body moving and doing it all with a one in a million backdrop.  

Now when I say walking, I’m not talking about donning full gear, boots laced up and off we go on a hike expedition, I simply mean a brisk walk to get the heart rate going, and blood circulating around those muscles.  

Forget that ‘apple a day’, it’s a walk a day that will keep the doctor away.  

Heading outside for a walk has many physical benefits, however we often forget how much it impacts our mental health and how it benefits our mood. 

I always feel a good walk can help compartmentalise our thoughts and stresses and green spaces are the perfect place to help us problem solve more efficiently and help us recharge. 

Remember back in school being sent outside after a block time of study to refresh our brains before we went back inside to learn some more? 

Most Read

A short walk a day is grown-up playtime! Whether it be on your lunch break or a catch up with friends, a walk can ensure those endorphins are setting us up for the day ahead, revitalising us and giving us more energy going forward.  

A walk is also great for increasing creativity - have you ever been in the house all day and felt groggy and low because you didn't go outside? Well, this can have a knock-on effect on diet and your sleeping pattern. It can also affect your mood, reaction time and concentration levels.  

Prioritising a walk by setting out your plans the day before and getting your clothes, shoes and water bottle ready can help you go to bed the night before with the mindset of what is to come.  

You are ten times more likely to go for a walk the next day if you do these small preparations.  

It’s true that sometimes we can feel too tired to get up and out for a walk, however energy actually creates energy. So, finding that willpower will instantly stimulate your energy levels leaving you feeling significantly better than when you first started.  

One of the beautiful things about Yorkshire is that you’re never far from a national park, heritage home, parks and grounds or a beautiful footpath or lake.  

One of my favourite places to blow off steam is the beautiful Grade II listed Shibden Hall in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Now, even more famously known for its connection to the BBC drama Gentleman Jack starring Suranne Jones.  

This iconic building and grounds have suddenly become a must-see tourist attraction waiting to be explored.  

Growing up this was a regular place to visit as a little girl and I continue to visit with family, young children and often when I just need to be at one with nature.  

Situated in the valley and overlooked by terraced houses and chimneys and peaceful farms on the top of the hills you feel like you have found a hidden gem amongst these quintessentially Yorkshire surroundings.  

With easy access to Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Leeds this is a definite walking location you don’t want to miss - especially in these spring months when the days become lighter for longer.  

One of the main reasons why this is such a great walk for someone wanting to get fit is its varied terrain.  

Lauren lives her best active life in the grounds of Shibden Hall 

Lauren lives her best active life in the grounds of Shibden Hall - Credit: Lauren Jagger

A popular and efficient form of training, also know as Fartlek Training, combines a variety of terrain to aid fitness and weight loss.  

The park and gardens are made up small hills, some steep inclines, flat footpaths around the water and steps nearer to the house.  

This change in landscape will ensure your heart rate doesn’t just plateau so you can get a good workout as well as enjoying the beautiful surroundings.  

The best thing about it is you can finish a beautiful brisk walk with a refreshment in the modern cafe next to the car park.  

Benefits of walking really are second to none;  

1 Improved circulation - one of the most important when it comes to walking. By keeping active and walking every day, we are helping our veins to do their job and circulate blood back up to the heart and the lungs. The more we walk the more we are aiding this process to happen and reducing the risk of swelling in the lower limbs and also varicose veins or deep vein thrombosis.  

2 Weight loss - it’s no secret that exercise aids weight loss but what many don’t realise is that you don’t have to be in the gym at 5am every morning flipping tyres to see a difference to your waist line. Being consistent with your walking and ensuring you are moving your whole body and increasing your cardiovascular endurance ultimately burns calories with every step.  

3 Improved sleep - such a major and underrated benefit of walking. Going for a walk can naturally make us tired so that when our head finally does hit the pillow we are not fighting against it or counting sheep - we have exercised our muscles and they are ready to rest. A good night’s sleep produces melatonin in response to being exposed to darkness hence why it’s ‘lights out before bed.’ This hormone helps boost our immune system but a bad night’s sleep can increase the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol which can have a negative impact on our heath and induce stress and weight gain.  

4 Active for longer - just a 30 minute walk a day will enable us to be more active especially as we go through adulthood. As we age we tend to seize up through inactivity and this will enable us to keep our joints lubricated from the inside with synovial fluid helping reduce stiffness and keeping us mobile - reducing our risk of arthritis and osteoporosis.  

5 Aids digestion - everytime we move and twist our torso we help move our intestines which in doing so helps us clear out our colon as-well as aiding digestion and lowering our chances of heart burn or acid reflux.  

6 Increases muscles strength and bone density – a regular brisk walk can improve the muscle tone in our thighs, calves, glutes and hamstrings enabling us to become stronger. Always include a variety of terrains and intensity to your brisk walk in order to get the most out it. This will help increase your overall health and fitness and decrease your risk of cardiovascular related diseases and illnesses. It’s time to up those steps and aim for 12,000-15,000 a day.  

Now if that seems a long way off then remember as long as you are moving you can always build up and it all starts with just one small step.  

Lauren Jagger is originally from West Yorkshire but spent the past seven years in Fiji where she moved with her partner, team manager for the Fiji Bati Team. 

During their time in Fiji they set up the Petero Civoniceva Foundation, a sports, health and education charity. 

With experience in dance and cheerleading, having trained at the NSCD (Northern School of Contemporary Dance in Leeds) and having her own dance company, Lauren set up Street Cheer Fiji and PCF Dance Academy started.  

She then created Bulalicious Activewear offering surf, swim and gym wear for women.  

‘We promote ‘Clothing with a conscience’, as our previous collections have given a percentage back to causes such as coral restoration, ventilators at local hospitals, orphanages and cyclone relief all within Fiji,’ says Lauren. 

‘This now focuses more on our ethical footprint with our garments made from recycled plastic bottles, fishing nets and 100% organic cotton.’ 

Lauren returned to family in Yorkshire due to the pandemic and has spent time promoting Bulalicious Activewear. Bulalicious.com