Nature – a free gym with rich rewards!

Many of us, often sporadically, get into getting fit. We buy gym subscriptions, go for a run, walk more or maybe start a new sport. The buzz that we can get through exercise and feeling physically fitter can be great – body and mind inextricably linked. Breaking up bad habits of inaction, or any number of vices, can be difficult in the extreme but we all know that it makes sense and it helps us to live our life now with more energy and zest. It’s just getting it into our minds to keep doing it.  The practice is what makes it work, not the one off or highly infrequent ‘bash’ at it.

Take it easy, gently warm up into the physical exercise over a few weeks and before you know it you will be there. But what about our mental exercise?  How often do you exercise the brain and carry out practice that makes the real you, the thinking you, rest easy in your body. Mindfulness practice, meditation and social interaction as well as engaging in things that switch you on to life are all great exercises for your soul. Nature can be a great resource for soul exercise. The wind in your hair, sun on your cheeks, driving rain or dropping snowflakes all awaken us and reconnect us to things that we need. No need to wait for the sun to shine, whatever the weather there is great benefit to be had from getting outside. This is real therapy and the evidence is stacked up to show the benefits for all. We shouldn’t wait till our health deteriorates, we all know that prevention is better than having to find a cure and with some mental health problems that cure can be slow and painful.

Nature Walks for Wellbeing are weekly, short outdoor sessions in Inverness for people who want to make or keep their mental health as strong and resilient as possible.  Immediate and lasting health benefits are achieved through mindful and nature based therapy activities in a safe group setting. From the pilot year during 2014/15 we formalised an approach working with Scottish Waterways Trust to deliver the outcomes of holistic wellbeing. The benefits of this work have been surveyed through thoughtful research and show immediate and lasting effects.

I go back to the hospital feeling much more energised after being in nature with a great bunch of folk.

  • Connecting with nature in a mindful way improves mood, calms a busy mind and promotes recovery
  • Learning, socialising and gentle movement in a group builds confidence, resilience,  mind and body
  • A referral/recruitment system works simply through recommendation by participants and occupational therapists within the hospital
  • Nature Walks for Wellbeing raise awareness, understanding and appreciation of our local greenspaces and wildlife

Nature Walks for Wellbeing are aimed as eco-based therapy for all. Health professionals who attend attest to the benefits for themselves as well as patients. Keep an eye out on our site for nature walk events – they really can make a huge difference to the way you relate to the natural world, those around you and perhaps most importantly, yourself. The increased day length and temperatures in spring and summer make it easy to start a good habit so join up for nature’s gym today!