Guest blog: The health benefits of bear hunting – Dr James Brown, healthy lifestyle expert

You may have noticed a stirring in the woods. Over the past week Shakesbear, The Honey Hunter and friends including Ed The X-ray Bear have popped up around us.

It’s the time of year again that giant painted animals appear across the West Midlands, this year as part of The Big Sleuth art trail.

Dr James Brown, healthy lifestyle expert

100 large bears and 137 colourful bear cubs have been placed around Birmingham, Solihull, Sutton Coldfield, Sandwell and Resorts World to create a huge route of discovery for all ages.

Each of these sculptures tells its own unique story, whether it be raising awareness of Birmingham Children’s Hospital, the industrial heritage of the region or Aston University’s new Medical School, and over the summer we all have the opportunity to see some or all of them.

Other events include a Fun Family 5K run at Sutton Park and “This Girl Can”, an event at Calthorpe Park which aims to encourage women and girls to get active. Alongside raising money for an important cause, this is a great opportunity for us all to be active this summer.

The latest British Heart Foundation report suggests that more than a third of us are failing to reach even the minimum recommendation for physical activity each week, meaning around 20 million people in the UK are insufficiently active.

Physical inactivity increases the risk of developing many diseases including obesity and heart disease and is the 4th most important risk factor in the UK for premature death.

The benefits of exercise are numerous, and walking is a fantastic way to exercise. Walking can help you maintain a healthy weight, increase your fitness and even improve your mood or memory.

For those amongst us who are feeling brave, collecting all the bears will involve walking around 70 miles, which in the average person would burn around 3500 calories.

For those of us with a smaller appetite for bear hunting, there is a shorter, 2 hour walk around Birmingham City Centre, which will take in 23 bears and 3 clusters of bear cubs.

Whatever your level of fitness or activity, why don’t you try getting out this summer and catching as many bears as you can, and at the same time getting some exercise at the same time.

Dr James Brown is Senior Lecturer in Biology at Aston University’s School of Life & Health Science. He is a prominent media commentator on obesity, type 2 diabetes, frailty, cancer and ageing.