More than half of people in the Wales walk to improve their mental and physical health.

New research by Living Streets’ National Walking Month has found that 53 per cent of Welsh respondents walk for the sake of their mental wellbeing and happiness.

This comes alongside an increase in people reporting feelings of anxiety, irritability, and loneliness when confined at home for an entire day.

The survey commissioned by Living Streets, the UK charity for everyday walking, further explores this trend.

It highlights that more than 50 per cent of people choose walking as a way to get fresh air and keep moving.

An encouraging 26 per cent of participants also cited walking as a means to connect with nature.

However, despite the proven mental and physical benefits of walking, a significant portion of the population isn't doing it enough.

Over a quarter of Welsh respondents, 27 per cent, admit to spending less than 20 minutes on foot in a regular day.

This is worryingly more than the 21 per cent reported by people in England.

This troubling statistic comes despite the revelation that almost half of Welsh participants, 44 per cent, express feelings of anxiety, irritability, or loneliness after staying at home for an entire day.

Furthermore, 41 per cent of those surveyed expressed feeling "less fit" after only one day without leaving their homes.

Dame Jane Roberts, a doctor, child psychiatrist and chairperson of Living Streets, commented on the findings: "With the UK in the grip of a mental health crisis, it’s encouraging to hear that so many of us walk to feel happier.

"Research shows people who are active through walking report higher levels of mental wellbeing and feel happier and less anxious – that’s the magic of walking."

She further noted: "As well as the physical benefits, walking can really help us switch off from the pressures of modern life.

"It’s a great way to spend time with friends and family – and to meet new people – helping reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation."

One success story is 70-year-old Rob Whitchurch, from Cardiff.

He was struggling with health issues and feeling isolated.

However, after attending weekly walks organised by Living Streets, his health improved and he feels more hopeful.

"I reckon I’m getting better because of the walking.

"It’s getting me fitter.

"I’m enjoying the company on the walks, which is good for me because it takes me out of my shell.

"I look forward to the walks – I’d do a walk a day if I could," he shared.

With National Walking Month, Living Streets is encouraging people to walk for 20 minutes each day and inviting others to join the #Try20 challenge.

The aim is to let more people discover the magic of walking.

For more information, visit the Living Streets website or search social media with the hashtags #Try20 and #MagicOfWalking.