‘Walks for Wellbeing’ Exeter is a programme of regular walks in and around Exeter, Devon. The walks are designed to improve mental and physical health and wellbeing and are led by health care professionals with expertise in working outdoors. People join the programme by referral from their Exeter General Practitioner and via Wellbeing Exeter Community Connectors.
The Walks for Wellbeing programme is led by ecopsychologists, that is people with a professional and personal engagement with human and other-than-human world. Based on many years of research, experience and professional practice, the programme combines the natural restorative power of nature with group sharing, personal reflection, creative processes and opportunities for one-to-one discussions.
Moderate exercise like walking helps protect the body from many illnesses and conditions, including heart disease and stroke, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, obesity, the most common type of diabetes and many cancers. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and stay happy: exercising outdoors, especially in green spaces, can help fight depression and improve mental health.
Where we meet
Future walks are to be organised. Usually our first meeting point is in front of the Cathedral main doors. There will be instructions for subsequent meeting places on the first walk.
What does the Walks for Wellbeing programme involve?
It’s a very relaxed, gentle and informal process where your safety and wellbeing are always central. You decide whether you want to participate, when you get involved, and who you work with.
We use the spaces and things we discover while walking to stimulate reflection and creative self-expression. Time is then spent talking one-to-one and in small groups. We will learn about nature and use simple exercises to help us experience it more deeply. Working in pairs or threes, we will share experiences, thoughts and feelings, and spend time alone when we choose to.
What to bring
Participants on the walk will need to be prepared for rain and wear appropriate clothing to be outdoors for two hours.
Please bring enough clothing (either worn, or carried) to be comfortable sitting for up to 30 minutes as well as a hat, sunblock, a drink and a snack. And bring a mug if you’d like to join us for a cuppa.
Also remember to bring any personal medication you may require on the walk. For example, your inhaler if you are asthmatic.
If you or someone you know is interested in participating in one of our Walks for Wellbeing programme, do get in contact with us.
Background to the Walks for Wellbeing initiative
‘A Dose of Nature’ is a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)-funded service evaluation to establish the feasibility of a ‘green prescription’ with a view to developing an NIHR-funded clinical trial, with health economic outcome measures.
A NERC-funded service evaluation has already been successfully conducted in Cornwall and extension funding has been awarded to repeat this in city settings.
The University of Exeter Medical School, the Exeter Clinical Trials Unit, the Clinical Research Network and the Research Design Service are currently working with the Lead investigator, Dr Dan Bloomfield, to obtain significant NIHR/MRC funding to develop this into an NIHR portfolio clinical trial that is eligible for service support payments.