Never underestimate the power of walking in forests

Sun beams through trees

Feel Good in the Forest at Thames Chase

Thames Chase is home to a variety of surfaced trails, ponds, meadows and even an orchard planted with traditional Essex apple and pear varieties, and is also where participants in the ‘Feel Good in the Forest’ social prescribing project can be found! Feel Good in the Forest supports local people, like Lorraine who shares her story below, to improve their physical and mental health by taking part in forest based activities.

Lorraine's story

I have been a full time carer for both of my parents and my husband for 5 years which has been a full time job, 24 hours a day. Earlier this year my Dad passed away and apart from poor mobility my husband's health has improved and I decided that it was time to look after my health and well being. 

I started by changing my diet as I had fallen into the habit of snacking around my meals and cooking 'quick' meals as my time was limited. Last December my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren moved in with us temporarily so she was cooking proper meals and it was in April of this year I stopped eating the cakes, chocolate etc. that were still part of my diet and ate more vegetables, fruit, chicken and turkey.

Lorraine from Feel Good in the Forest-1

How Lorraine learnt to make time for herself

Lorraine has been attending the weekly walk at Thames Chase since hearing about it in Tapestry’s newsletter during carers week in June. Turning off her phone and re connecting with nature made her realise how important it is to take time for herself for her own wellbeing. Before Lorraine said she ‘didn’t have time’ she now ‘makes time’. Lorraine’s story reveals how just by simply spending time in nature, she has improved her overall health and wellbeing...

Walking with the Thames Chase group has given me the confidence to go out and do other things just for me which in turn has improved my overall health
Thames Chase signage-1

The journey so far

I started to lose weight and in June started to walk with Rachael at Thames Chase on a Monday afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed the time away from family for a few hours, phone turned off and meeting a friendly group of people. This reminded me how I used to like walking with my Dad before his Alzheimer's put a stop to it. Walking was also something that I could do that didn't affect my lower back problem. 

At the end of July I joined a wellbeing course for ladies over 50 at a gym. Previously I wouldn't have taken any notice of it but thought it would help with my weight loss and body toning. After the initial 6 weeks I found that by attending three exercise classes per week and using the gym occasionally I not only continued to lose weight but my back problem improved to the point where I have stopped taking strong painkillers daily. Prior to this it could take up to 25 minutes each morning to get out of the bed, dress and get down the stairs, now I have no problem getting ready for the day and have lost two stone in weight.

Walking with the Thames Chase group has given me the confidence to go out and do other things just for me which in turn has improved my overall health and to look forward to life again rather than just getting through the days and sometimes feeling very overwhelmed. I'm still able to enjoy the odd chocolate bar and cake. 

Want to know more?

If you would like to find out more about social prescribing through nature, you can read about the Feel Good in the Forest programme we run at Thames Chase and Chopwell Wood.

Keep exploring

Feel good in the forest2

Feel Good in the Forest is Forestry England’s new social prescribing project aimed at improving the physical and mental health of those in most need.

Bright orange leaves lining the forest floor on a trail

Hear how one participant from Chopwell Wood benefited from being surrounded by the sights and sounds of the forest

Group of people standing on grass

Hear from participants on the Feel Good in the Forest programme to find out what they have to say...