It’s healthy outside

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USING the outdoors to help people recover from physical and mental stresses was the subject of the Borders’ first Woods for Health seminar on Friday.

More than 50 health and environment professionals attended the event at Tweed Horizons organised by Borders Forest Trust (BFT), Forestry Commission Scotland (FCS) and NHS Borders.

BFT’s community woodlands officer Lisa Brydon said: “The healing power of nature, fresh air, sunlight and exercise have all been a feature of healthcare for centuries and this was an opportunity to find out more and exchange ideas about taking healing outdoors.”

The woodlands officer has started a 12-week programme, Branching Out, taking people with mental health issues outdoors to participate in several activities and aid their recovery.

She also runs volunteer days and leads a weekly health walk.

The seminar looked at joint working and how green healthcare could help mental health and there were taster sessions for ecotherapy and arts activities, tree ID walks and health walks.

Keynote speakers included FCS’s health adviser Kevin Lafferty, Peeblesshire wilderness therapist Rab Erskine, who helps people while outdoors in nature, Lisa Brydon and Daru Mcaleece of the social enterprise Borders Environmental Education Services, which runs natural play groups, forest schools, bushcraft parties as well as environmental learning events and team-building activities.