Wellbeing on your doorstep

Modern life can be stressful and many of us would like to live healthier, calmer and less sedentary lives. This stress awareness week, we're looking at how our canals act as a 'natural health service' to help people feel better for free.

Family in autumn Family in autumn

Maybe you want to get fit and healthy, or find exciting places to explore so you can spend more time with friends and family. Perhaps you just want to enjoy life to its fullest and increase your wellbeing.

As the temperature drops and the nights draw in, it's more important than ever to look after your wellbeing. 

Five ways to wellbeing

Supported by local GPs and health groups, research has shown that there are five ways to wellbeing that we can all enjoy. So if you live or work near one of our wonderful waterways here’s how they can help you achieve five ways to wellbeing.


The evidence shows that feeling close to and valued by other people is a fundamental human need. With this in mind, try to do something different today and spend time with others:

  • If you’re walking, running, cycling or boating along your local canal take time to say hi to people. It’s a great way to make new friends or catch up with old ones
  • Ask how someone’s weekend by the canal was and really listen when they tell you

Be active

Regular activity is great for health and fitness but did you know it’s also helpful in lowering depression and promoting wellbeing? It doesn’t have to be particularly intense for you to feel good:

  • Go for a walk at lunchtime along your local canal towpath
  • Cycle to work along a towpath, perhaps with a colleague, so you can ‘connect’ as well

Take notice

Studies show that being aware of your surroundings directly enhances your wellbeing and savouring ‘the moment’ can help reaffirm your life priorities. You could:

  • Take a different route to or from work or to the shops – did we mention towpaths are good for that?
  • Visit a new place for lunch. If you’re after somewhere peaceful, try a canal side bench (but before you’re tempted to toss your left over sandwich to the ducks, find out how we’re keeping our ducks healthy)

Friends walking along the Kennet & Avon Canal


They say ‘learning something new every day’ can enhance self-esteem and encourage that vital social connection and a more active life. Here are a few of our ideas:


Community life attracts a lot of attention in wellbeing research. People who help others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. It’s not just about doing a good deed. Our volunteers love to stay active, meet new friends and do their bit to keep their local canal a special place.

Last date edited: 28 October 2019