From Loire Valley: Top tips towards achieving a healthy life in France
British expat Teresa Dolan found herself turning to nature when she couldn’t find a gym in the neighbourhood.
Fontevraud where we live in the Loire Valley, boasts a glorious forest where you can walk, reflect and watch the shifting of the seasons. It is also a fantastic place to re-charge your batteries after a busy day or as an early morning sprint to kick start the day’s activities.
Here in France I have found it difficult to find a gym on my doorstep that was viable for me in terms of distance, facilities and cost. Back in the UK I used to belong to a gym/fitness centre, and I must say that I loved it. Plus it wasn’t that expensive.
So for now, the countryside is the best option.
‘Green’ gym in Fontevraud
Take a breath of fresh air by getting out into the wonderful countryside on your doorstep.
This is your natural ‘green’ gym where you can meet up with friends, go for rambles and runs, arrange healthy picnics, and primarily keep your spirits up by getting lots of fresh air and enjoying the abundance of wild life, flora and fauna surrounding you.
It is also, it has to be said in these economically ‘lean’ times, a free resource that we can all draw upon.
Fontevraud, and its surroundings boasts many different walking trails for those who enjoy a ramble, want to get fitter and/or indeed simply get out there in the fresh air.
One that I particularly enjoy goes through the forest and others will lead you through the countryside with another where you will follow the path of the river.
Most of the walks are colour coded and the local tourist office has developed a booklet outlining many of them. There is one walk which enables you to walk with the historic abbey where Eleanor of Aquitaine ended her days, as your panoramic backdrop.
Check out the local office de tourisme website for details or visit the one in Saumur to purchase the booklet for a small fee.
Being outdoors really lifts one’s spirits, especially during the winter months when one is exposed to less sunlight and outdoor activities. A recent study carried out by the charity MIND reveals 90 percent of people monitored felt more positive after they took a 10-minute walk in natural surroundings.
Take up a new sport or activity
Take up a new sport or leisure activity such as dancing or singing.
I have taken up brisk walking since we moved to France and look forward every day to getting out into the open countryside, if only for a short while.
While I will not be winning any fitness marathons, I am beginning to feel fitter and more toned. Each time I step out into my green gym, I return feeling more positive even if I have had a difficult day.
I also sing with our local gospel choir, Happy Gospel. Not only is this a wonderful way to meet new people and feel a part of the community, it is good for your fitness levels as one usually feel quite energetic after a rehearsal or a concert. It is also excellent for your circulation and for deep breathing. If you would like to join us, email Florence at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Equestrian sports are popular in this region, and with the internationally renowned Cadre Noir equestrian school in Saumur, how could it otherwise? Check out their website for more information about how you can be inspired by the best.
And for the more adventures, the Loire River also presents many opportunities to get active on water - from boating, skiing to kayaking.
Enjoy being fit in Loire Valley!
Teresa Dolan / Expatica
Originally from England, the author has written for a number of International publications over the years including the Weekly Telegraph and most recently for The French Paper. Since moving to France in 2005, Teresa and her family run a Chambre d'Hôtes and Salon de Thé and a small mainly vegetarian restaurant in the ancient village of Fontevraud in the Loire Valley.
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