/ The Daisy Foundation with Jilly Clarke

The Importance of fresh air – and where to get it in Welwyn Garden City

Best parks and walks in Welwyn Garden City and surrounding area

With the warmer weather making an appearance it is a wonderful time to get outside and blow the cobwebs away. I have put together below a list of some of the best places to enjoy parks, woodland, or nature in general around Welwyn Garden City, the surrounding villages and even into St Albans.

It can be so easy to stay indoors, especially with a new baby; and we have spent so much of the past year stuck inside it can be easy to fall into habits. But grabbing even 5 minutes of fresh air has so many benefits to your physical and mental health. So, grab your coats/sling/buggy/baby bag/the kitchen sink (!) and head outside.

Fresh air benefits for you?
  • Fresh air makes you happier. More fresh air, the more oxygen you will breathe. Then this will increase the amount of serotonin (a happy hormone) you release by your brain, therefore making you happier. Moving around also increases endorphin levels, reducing adrenaline and again making you happier and calmer. (if anyone who has done Daisy Birthing with me will know all about endorphins and adrenaline!)
  • Fresh air strengthens your immune system. We know that people who get fresh air often have stronger immune systems in general. This means less illness overall, as your body has an easier time fighting off germs before they invade and take over.
  • Fresh air cleans your lungs. Exposure to more oxygen causes the blood vessels in your lungs to dilate (get larger – again we know all about this from Daisy Birthing in relation to your cervix!). This then improves cleansing and tissue repair within the lungs, and helps them exchange gases more easily.
  • Fresh air gives you more energy and a sharper mind. Again by pumping more oxygen into your body you are allowing your whole system to work more efficiently. It really is a wonderful tool!
  • Fresh air is good for your digestive system. You’ll benefit from an increase to the flow of oxygen helping you digest food more effectively
  • Fresh air helps improve blood pressure and heart rate. Getting your body moving, releasing stress and generally helping with a feeling of wellbeing.

In addition, venturing outside will also help you produce vitamin D from the sun (when it does come out), which is essential for many bodily functions including supporting our immune system, strengthening our bones, teeth and much more. That powerful vitamin can also help you fight depression as well so get outside and enjoy yourself.

What about the benefits for baby?
  • Fresh air can jumpstart language skills. The sights, the smells, the sensation of the breeze on their face. All this sensory input, as well as having an adult narrate the experience for them really can boost their language skills.
  • Fresh air improves physical development. If you are able to let baby out of the carrier or buggy for some time outside it can really help boost their development. If they are moving around they will experiences uneven ground, different textures under foot (or knee/hand). Even having to readjust themselves against the wind is beneficial for their muscles. Not to mention bending down or reaching up to explore every last stick, blade of grass or leaf on a bush! Add in some playground fun and you’ve got yourself an amazing sensory and physical experience.
  • Fresh air lays foundations for learning. All the sights, sounds and textures in nature are irresistible to a young adventurer. Little ones are natural scientists, experimenting with their surrounds and working out how they relate to the world. It is never too early to expose little ones to learning opportunities out in nature.
  • Fresh air helps create healthy sleep patterns. Exposure to natural light, particularly morning light can help little ones set their circadian rhythm. That is their natural body clock and can help boost sleep patterns. Fresh air also sends more oxygen into the body, allowing little brains to work hard to process the rich sensory experiences, and therefore can aid better sleep.
  • Fresh air can help ward off illness. Just like in adults we know that fresh air boosts the immune system.
  • Fresh air is good for mum and dad and promotes bonding time with your baby. Naturally when you are pushing a pram or walking with your little one in a carrier, or holding their hand, your focus is on them. Use that time to narrate what you see, smell, and feel. Show them everything you are noticing.

The key is to take a few precautions for young outdoor adventurers, including staying out of direct sunlight and dressing in appropriate layers. You can read more about this in my blog post about baby wearing in different weathers.

Best parks/outdoor spaces around Welwyn and Welwyn Garden City

Getting out to a park or the woods is a lovely trip out. Whether you are taking exercise in pregnancy, walking to try and get labour going. Perhaps it is baby’s first trip out, or the first trip on the swings. There will come a time when a park is the go-to easy option for an activity to kill a couple of hours. So with that in mind here are my favourite around Welwyn.

  • Welwyn Village – a great older play park at Ottway Walk car park and a younger park further up the hill near the Whitehill Centre
  • Haldens Park
  • Stanbrough Lakes – lovely walk around the lakes, plus a play park and splash park too
  • Moneyhole Playing Fields – there is also access to woodland here too
  • The Lagoon – lovely little lake just of Mundells roundabout
  • Digswell park – take a walk under the viaduct and along the lovely footpath, enjoy the swings. Plus there is also a nature reserve where you can see some ducks and other wildlife.
  • Sherrardswood – a lovely woodland walk. There’s a great little stream to paddle in near The Red Lion pub entrance. Or lots of trails, mud, places to hide and sticks to find.
  • Digswell waterfall Just down the road from Digswell park is a lovely little waterfall and is great for a little paddle if the water isn’t running too high. Part of the Centenary walk.
  • Brockett Hall waterfall Again you can see these as part of the Centenary walk. This waterfall is simply stunning.
  • Fairlands Park, Stevenage – a great one in the summer with a play area, splash park and a big lake to walk round.
  • Verulamium Park, St Albans – another great splash park but also a lovely lake to walk around.
  • Knebworth House – can be costly but is a wonderful day out with little ones with a big play park, a dinosaur trail and lovely gardens.
  • Hatfield House – lovely grounds to walk around.