Exercise is therapeutic, as is being outdoors in the natural environment. Therefore, doing both must be even better for improving mental well-being.
This is why there are various initiatives underway in Devon to encourage people to go out into the countryside, walk, run or cycle. Active Devon, who runs the ‘Connecting Actively to Nature’ project, is particularly keen on encouraging older people to enjoy the benefits of outdoor exercise and runs free events called Love Later Life, in collaboration with Age UK. These events are designed to be suitable for people over 50, with activities for all fitness levels.
The next of these events will take place at Haldon Forest Park, near Exeter, on Wednesday September 25th. The activities offered will include a variety of walks for all levels, guided biking, gentle Pilates and an introduction to orienteering.
There will also be the ‘forest bath’, which is simply the experience of immersing yourself in the natural environment and being aware of all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations.
The “gong bath” will also be offered, in which the sounds and vibrations of the gongs are used to help people reach a state of deep relaxation.
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There will be instructors and rangers on hand to help and advise, and all equipment will be provided.
Toby Bowen-Scott, Haldon Forest Park Manager, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Age UK Devon and Active Devon, who share our commitment to connecting people to the great outdoors.
“We recently completed a number of developments at Haldon Forest Park that will help us ensure that visitors of all ages and abilities can experience the physical and mental benefits of being active in the forest, that they breathe the fresh air, experience our special wildlife, or develop their fitness and coordination on a trail. “
These developments include shorter, fully accessible hiking trails, additional seating, and a covered area for yoga.
The organizers of the Forest Initiation Day hope that it will inspire older people to try new outdoor activities or take up an old hobby that takes them into the natural environment.
The day runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information call Age UK on 0333 241 2340.