(in Volume 25)
See Delegate Pack
Peers Clough Farm – riding for health and wellbeing
Chris Thomas, Proprietor, Peers Clough Farm
Peers Clough Packhorses is a small horse riding and trekking centre run by Chris Thomas and her daughters.
“We believe that working with horses and riding outdoors is beneficial to the physical, mental and emotional wellbeing of everyone.
We seek to increase knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of our natural environment in an atmosphere of mutual trust, respect and friendship between horse and rider.”
Chris, Cia and Suzy have:
- created a unique and person-centred enterprise which welcomes people to their farm, their area and their ponies
- are infinitely flexible in their approach to clients and the marketplace , offering personal attention and tailor-made experiences.
- promoted the beautiful Rossendale countryside which celebrate the heritage of ancient rights of way and packhorse trails.
- trained a fantastic team of locally bred, native Fell ponies who are dependable, trustworthy and loyal colleagues
- promoted the documented health benefits of riding through physical exercise, being outdoors, and connecting to a large living creature
- encouraged people to respect and care for animals and each other
“There is nothing so good for the inside of a man as the outside of a horse”
Ponies do not make judgements about people based on their age, gender, colour, creed, social background, intelligence, wealth or status, only on the person you really are.
By working with them we can engender a sense of worth and value in our clients develop positive mental, behavioural, emotional and physical outcomes.
Walking in Winchcombe
Chair of Winchcombe Walkers are Welcome Steering Group
Lead Adviser, National Trails, Natural England
In Winchcombe, Gloucestershire the Walkers are Welcome group and the Walking for Health leader worked with the local Medical Practice to introduce Prescription Walks.
When doctors want to recommend walking to patients to improve their physical or mental health, they always suggest the regular Thursday morning Walking for Health walks first. However these are not suitable for people who work or people who do not want to walk with a large group. In such cases the doctor now has the option of offering Prescription Walks, if they think they are suitable for the patient.
The doctors have an electronic document on their computer system. A map shows a variety of different walks within the town. The routes were chosen carefully to offer a measured walk avoiding steep hills and dangerous road crossings. The map also shows where there are seats and gives the height gained on each route. Wherever a patient lives in the town, there is a route close to their house. Six of the walks are approximately one mile long and one is two miles long.
The document recommends appropriate clothing and has a text box where the doctor can type in the ‘prescription’ instructions.
The Health Benefits of Horse Riding in the UK
Mark Weston, Director of Access, British Horse Society
There was limited evidence available on the physical health, psychological and well- being benefits of horse riding. Given this situation, the University of Brighton, in Partnership with Plumpton College, were commissioned by The British Horse Society to carry out a study to identify the health and well – being benefits of horse – based sport and leisure.
The research was carried out by a multi – disciplinary research team that included sports scientists based at the University of Brighton Welkin Human Performance Laboratories, equine specialists from Plumpton College and social scientists from the University of Brighton with specialist expertise in leisure, health and outdoor environments.
Evidence was collated using a variety of quantitative and qualitative research methods, including a literature search, physiological testing and a survey of recreational horse riders. The research focused on recreational horse – based sport and leisure and did not consider the health benefits that are obtained by professional equestrian sports people.
The detailed findings of the research can be viewed on The British Horse Society’s website http://www.bhs.org.uk/~/media/BHS/Files/PDF%20Documents/Health%20Benefits%20of%20Riding%20in%20the%20UK%20Full%20Report.ashx
For people involved in horse riding some of the findings may be self evident, such as the high level of female participants in horse riding or the importance of interacting with horses as a motivation for riding. Many of the physical health and psychological dimensions of horse riding, however, may not be well known amongst key partner organisations that can play an important role in the future development of horse-based sport and leisure.
Green exercise partnership in Scotland and innovative NHS greenspace for health and wellbeing
Kevin Lafferty, Access, Health & Recreation Advisor, Forestry Commission Scotland
Branching Out is a multi award winning referral programme of woodland activities for people using mental health services. Over 1500 adults using mental health services have completed the 12 week programme to date.
Use of the natural environment has the potential to be one of the most beneficial and cost effective ways of increasing the nation’s mental and physical health.
The display will showcase current practice and joint working between health and environment sectors and provide details on Branching Out leaders training course and economic study to extend research evidence to show the economic benefits of becoming more active in green space to health.
Forests as places of mental wellbeing: the meaning and use of urban forests by people with early-stage dementia
Mandy Cook, PhD research
This qualitative research uses a co-productive approach to explore experiences in an urban forest setting of people with early-stage dementia living independently, with a view to looking specifically at aspects of mental wellbeing associated with these experiences. The research aims to engage with, and seeks to inform, forest management approaches that are key to achieving Forestry Commission Scotland’s and Scottish Government’s agenda of improved mental wellbeing and social inclusion. This fills a research gap by moving away from assumptions about the claimed positive impact of nature and providing a more detailed and critical insight into the meaning and use of the specific setting of urban forests. A participatory action research approach has been used to capture and distil the experiences of people with early-stage dementia who already engage with urban forests. These experiences have then been used to co-design a programme of woodland activities based in an urban forest setting for people with early-stage dementia who have no recent experience of this environment. Walk-along interviews have been used as a way of understanding urban forests and participant’s experiences of them. As an aid to these, additional creative methods, including participatory mapping, using photographs to tell a story (Photovoice), sketching and poetry, provided other ways, besides language, of understanding how use of urban forests shapes a person with dementia’s behaviour and wellbeing.
Juliet Michael, Come Outside!, Natural Resources Wales
Natural Resources Wales’ Come Outside! Programme inspires, motivates and supports people to develop healthy lifestyles by experiencing, enjoying and caring for local greenspace. The Programme develops the capacity of youth, health and community development professionals to use outdoor activities to support people experiencing disadvantage, bringing them together with outdoor providers; groups that haven’t, traditionally, worked together.
Active within some of the most socially deprived areas in Wales, Come Outside! develops a series of outdoor sessions following in-depth community consultation. Working with experienced outdoor providers activities are designed to meet the needs of individual community groups, reducing barriers to participation. Taster sessions develop capacity, confidence and skills, increasing physical activity levels. Further training provides opportunities for re-entering work or education. By designing sessions that meet people’s needs and including different elements to capture everyone’s interest, participants are more likely to return and continue their involvement.
Activities include ‘dark skies’ observation, community edible trails, bushcraft, geocaching cycling skills and many others. Local people involved in the programme have benefitted from renewed interest in the outdoors and have increased physical activity, confidence and motivation.
The Programme is currently funded for three years by Natural Resources Wales, Welsh Government and the Big Lottery.
British Nordic Walking
Karen Ingram, Director, British Nordic Walking CIC
British Nordic Walking works with many community projects throughout the UK to encourage physical activity outdoors. Nordic Walking has been shown to have many significant health benefits in addition to encouraging the use of green space. Research has shown that Nordic Walking can benefit conditions such as heart disease, cancer, parkinsons, obesity, to name a few. A summary of these findings can be found at http://britishnordicwalking.org.uk/pages/nordic-walking-research.
British Nordic Walking has worked with over 100 different community focused organisation to develop Nordic Walking projects. Such projects have been part of successful initiatives in the fields of:
- Active ageing
- GP referral schemes
- Cardiac Rehab
- Mental health issues
- Heart health awareness
- Obesity in young people
- Inactive communities
- Stroke & Parkinson’s rehabilitation
- Increasing participation in walking for health schemes
- Accessing green space
These are just some examples. A free guide is available from our stand, designed to give you the information you need to set up your own community programme, including costs, models of delivery and resources needed.
Why does Nordic Walking work?
Nordic Walking is a safe, natural, dynamic, efficient and suitable-for-all form of a physical activity that trains the body in an holistic, symmetric and balanced way. Nordic Walking uses specially designed poles to enhance your natural walking experience. It is a fun and social activity that can be done in town or country throughout the year.
The Finnish Government were the forerunners of using Nordic Walking to improve public health. They used Nordic Walking as part of their national policy to improve health and well being. Nordic Walking is now a national pastime in Finland.
Community projects in the UK report high participation numbers, and good retention when compared to other activities they have offered. Nordic Walking engages people who would not traditionally participate in any kind of exercise. The health benefits are considerable and yet the perception of effort is low, in other words people enjoy Nordic Walking and so stick at it. Nordic Walking is sociable and can help to build a sense of community amongst the participants.
Nordic Walking is kind to the joints, increases the stability of the walker and works nearly all of the muscles in the body. Nordic Walking is taught in a way that develops improved walking and posture as well as good pole technique. The benefits to the body are functional and so transfer into everyday life.
Tackling physical inactivity through the use of forests
Dr Liz O’Brien, Senior Social Researcher, Forest Research
Increasing concerns about the nation’s health and lifestyle diseases has led the environment sector to illustrate how it can contribute to encouraging and enabling people to become more physically active and improve mental well-being. The Public Forest Estate in England managed by Forestry Commission England (FCE) provides an excellent and large scale resource that is very accessible and has a proactive focus on welcoming everybody. There are two key ways in which FCE promotes the use of forests for health: 1) by providing an accessible resource that is welcoming and well managed with facilities that encourage access and 2) by working in partnership with a range of organisations and communities to deliver health interventions specifically targeted at particular groups of people. Examples of interventions that have and are taking place include the Chopwell Wood Health Project, Active England and Active Forests Programmes. A key aspect of these projects has been monitoring and evaluation by Forest Research (FR) to understand the impacts of the interventions on people’s self reported health and well-being. FR has also undertaken reviews of research on the health and well-being benefits of forests and has produced a range of briefing notes and papers illustrating the ways in which forest can contribute to healthy lifestyles.
Recreational Audit for Disabled Access (RADA)
Paul Renfro, Sustainable Recreation Co-ordinator, Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum CiC
The Recreational Audit for Disabled Access (RADA) will ensure that people are able to visit a good quality environment by identifying and working toward removing barriers for those with disabilities from visiting outdoor recreational sites and experiencing recreational activity.
The project aims to increase / improve recreational opportunities for disabled people (so they can thus enjoy the social and health benefits) by identifying where barriers exist, exploring potential solutions to those barriers and providing an economic evaluation of those potential options. The project will cover 3 years and will be split into 3 distinctive areas.
- Year 1 – Identify barriers from ‘cradle to grave’ for disabled access to recreation via the Pembrokeshire Outdoor Charter Group (POCG) and Sport Disability Wales (SDW).
- Year 2 – Assess and evaluate potential solutions for improving access through POCG members.
- Year 3 – Provide an economic evaluation through costing and reporting on the possible solutions for providing better access to recreation by disable users.
The POCG is a partnership approach which includes local businesses, statutory and non-statutory organisations has been in existence for over 10 years. OCG is viewed as best practice nationally and contains all of the Outdoor adventure business sector in the region with approx. 400 members.
Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum(PCF) also manage Wales Activity Mapping (WAM) – a GIS mapping project into the type, amount and distribution of recreational activities carried out on the South West Wales coastline which includes information on relevant infrastructure and management issues. The project proposes to layer hard issues with regards to disabled access on a specifically defined and hosted GIS layers on WAM.
We will link with SDW to develop the quantitative input of the survey.
This project is an effective solution as:-
- It will research total barriers from conception (booking) through delivery and on completion of recreational activity.
- It uses the POCG which comprises all providers of recreational activity in Pembrokeshire.
- The method/facility for GIS mapping ‘hard’ issues already exists in WAM.
The project will outline options and investments to ‘put a figure’ on investment required for an equal society for participation in outdoor recreation.