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Get fit in the forest: The health and well-being benefits of walking your dog in the woods

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Runners with dog

Make a resolution to get fit that you and your dog can stick to this New Year with the help of the Forestry Commission. 

From special guided walks for dogs and their owners at Westonbirt Arboretum, to dog agility trails and dog events dotted across England in 2014, it is time for you and your dog to get fit in the forest.

Forestry Commission woods have numerous dog agility trails dotted around the country and hundreds of way-marked trails that offer physical challenges for dogs and owners.

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

Simple steps such as a brisk walk in the woods will help prevent cardiovascular disease, arthritis and obesity whilst improving fitness levels for you and your dog alike. Recreation in natural surroundings, such as forests, 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.

Charlotte Magowan, Forestry Commission, 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 stunning scenery 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 use their local Forestry Commission woodland for healthy bonding time with their dogs.”

You’re never more than a thirty minute drive away from a Forestry Commission England woodland. Discovery Pass holders get free parking and discounts at forest fitness classes 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 fit in the forest with the Forestry Commission.

For more information, visit


Notes to Editors

1. 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

2. Forestry Commission Discovery Passes vary in price from £20-£50 for annual membership. For more information visit

3. 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.

4. 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.

 Media contact:  Sara Chan,, 0117 372 5107