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30 days wild

30 days wild

June is 30 Days Wild month so this week I’d like to follow on from volunteering opportunities in the great outdoors and look at some other ways you can Get More Active whilst enjoying the wonderful countryside in Surrey.

One of the easiest ways to enjoy the countryside is by walking if you are able. You can find information about accessible walks (including those suitable for wheelchair users) in the area here:

Access for All | Disabled Walks | Canal & River Trust (canalrivertrust.org.uk)

Surrey (accessiblecountryside.org.uk)

Why not combine your trip out with capturing some of the views on camera or stopping to listen to the birdsong – you could even set your alarm for an early start and catch the dawn chorus!

If you are an art lover, you could combine some fresh air with a wide variety of sculptures at Farnham’s sculpture park. There are steps on one of the guided routes but there is also a step free accessible route. https://www.thesculpturepark.com/

Cycling is a wonderful way to appreciate nature and the nationally recognised initiative Wheels for All embraces children and adults with disabilities and differing needs, to engage in a quality cycling activity providing fun and stimulating cycling. Their centres have specially adapted cycles and trained leaders so that all can enjoy the benefits of cycling in a social environment. Our closest centres are Leatherhead, Woking, Epsom, Slough, Croydon and Crawley and you can find out more here:

Wheels for All | Cycling Projects — The UK inclusive cycling charity

And if you really want to get up close and personal with nature why not challenge yourself to get up in the trees and Go Ape?! Go Ape courses are high rope adventures with tree to tree crossings rope climbs and zip wires. They are certainly challenging but Go Ape would like to make their adventures as accessible as possible. You can read more about their accessibility here:

Accessibility of Go Ape Adventures | Go Ape

And find locations here:

Adventures at locations and forests across the UK | Go Ape

This is just a brief snapshot of ideas to get you thinking about being active outdoors. If you would like to discuss any of these activities (and more), in depth, then please get in touch with the Get More Active project:

Email: getmoreactive@surreycoalition.org.uk

Phone or SMS text: 07434 865062

If you’d like to join in with the free 30 Days Wild initiative you can get more ideas and sign up here:

30 Days Wild 2021 – Sign up for your pack | The Wildlife Trusts

Outdoor Gyms – the free, local way to build a bit of activity into your day!

Picture: The outdoor gym at Victory Park

This week I’d like to talk to you about outdoor gyms. You may have come across one in your local park and wondered about giving it a go. They are similar to the gym equipment found in leisure centres and can be found in public spaces providing a selection of equipment that anyone can use – for free! There is also the added benefit that exercising in the fresh air gives.

I chatted to 77 year old Surrey Coalition member Richard Gosling, who lost his sight 43 years ago. Richard has been using his local outdoor gym for the last 5 years. He tells me a friend told him about the gym in Victory Park, Addlestone and knowing how beneficial exercise is, he gave it a try. Richard visits twice a week with his good friend, Harry and they exercise for about 30 mins or so, maybe more, sometimes running around the park too, always with a good chat and catch up.

Outdoor gyms are designed for anybody to use, at any time, for free. The equipment is safe and simple to use without the need for an instructor as there will always be instructions on the machines to show you how to use them. There are usually some machines designed to build strength where you will be seated and push or pull levers with some resistance, or you might have a plate to put your feet on and push with your legs. There will also be some equipment to raise your heart rate a little, maybe a static bike or cross trainer. Richard’s favourite at Victory Park is the cross trainer which he uses to warm up and get the heart pumping.

Richard thoroughly recommends people give outdoor gyms a try, he says “These places are free and usually not too far away. It will improve your wellbeing, your mental wellbeing and wake you up” “There is the motivation of getting together with a good friend and knowing that I will feel more cheerful after.”

If you’d like to find out where your nearest outdoor gym is – check out the m below. Unfortunately, there isn’t currently anywhere that gives a comprehensive list of locations – something that I’m working on! Please do let me know if your local outdoor gym is not on this list.

Tandridge:              

  • Queens Park, Caterham-on-the-hill
  • Whyteleafe Recreation Ground, Hillbury Road, Whyteleafe
  • Holland Park, Oxted

Reigate and Banstead:    

  • Redhill Memorial Park, London Road, Redhill

Epsom and Ewell: 

  • Court Recreation Ground, Hazon Way, Epsom
  • Gibraltar Recreation Ground, West Street, Ewell,
  • Shadbolt Park, Worcester Park
  • The Warren, Beaconsfield Road, Epsom

Mole Valley:           

  • Kingston Road Playground, Leatherhead
  • Meadowbank, Dorking

Elmbridge:              

  • Long Ditton Recreation Ground, Windmill Lane, Long Ditton
  • Cobham Recreation Ground, Lushington Drive, Cobham
  • Coronation Recreation Ground, Molesey Road, Hersham
  • Hurst Park, Sadlers Rise, West Molesey

Spelthorne:             

  • Hengrove Park, Station Crescent, Staines
  • Shepperton Recreation Ground, Grove Road, Shepperton

Runnymede:

  • Hythe Park, Field View, Egham
  • Victory Park,  Chertsey Road, Addlestone

Waverley:   

  • Farnham Park Trim Trail, Folly Hill, Farnham

Guildford:   

  • Stoke Park Fitness Trail, Nightingale Road, Guildford
  • Kingston Meadows Trim Trail, Kingston Avenue, East Horsley
  • Westborough Woods Trim Trail, Guildford

Woking:       

  • Woking Park, Kingfield Road, Woking
  • Goldsworth Park Recreation Ground, Woking
  • Vyne Field, Redding Way, Knaphill

Surrey Heath:         

  • Frimley Lodge Park Trim Trail, Sturt Road, Frimley Green
  • Windlesham Field of Remembrance, Kennel Lane, Windelsham

Open Water Swimming

I have a print above my desk that I glance at from time to time when working. It is entitled “Swim Wild” and has an ink drawing in shades of blue of a lady diving into water next to a poem by Steven Corbett:

“What’s a worry, once you’re in?

Let the lake evaporate all those thoughts on which you cogitate.

Let the slop chop of arm out, arm in silence that to-do list din.

When crawling through that vast reflected sky do not ask how or why?

Let the world dissolve into the current and the cold.

To your worries (for the moment) become reconciled

Swim free, swim wild”

Every time I read it, I smile and am transported to the lake at Divers Cove – its clear, cool waters and its friendly community of swimmers.

At the beginning of last summer, when we were learning how to navigate our way through this scary, confusing new world of lockdown and social distancing, of empty shelves in shops and hug-free virtual meetings – the lake was my oasis of calm and normality. Something safe, enjoyable, and allowed. Swimming in the lake, I am literally submerged in nature. I feel calm, relaxed, and happy. 

I am not alone in this – in 2020 it is estimated that between 1.5 to 3 times as many people tried Open Water Swimming for the first time. It also seems that swimming outdoors and especially in cold water may be more beneficial for our wellbeing than other forms of exercise.

  • During exercise the body releases endorphins and dopamine which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and pleasure.
  • Exercising outdoors is even more effective. Research has shown that exercise in blue and/or green spaces increases the positive psychological results of exercise.
  • Immersion in cold water creates a stress reaction in your body, the so -called “fight or flight” mode. However, this reaction reduces after only a few times as the body adapts to the stress. Even better, this reduced reaction will also now apply to other forms of stress, both physical and psychological.
  • The outdoor swimming community is incredibly friendly and attracts people of all ages, sexes, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, we can build on new and existing friendships

What do you need to get started?

A swimming costume and goggles – of course! It can be useful to have an extra pair of goggles with tinted lenses for sunny days.

A swimming hat – most venues require you to wear a brightly coloured hat so that you are clearly visible. They also help keep your head warm.

A wetsuit – not essential but they do keep you warm and help with buoyancy. There are lots of places you can hire a suit from to see if you like it before committing to buying.

A tow float – a small inflatable float that you attach around your waist. Not essential but they are inexpensive, help with visibility and if you are not wearing a wetsuit give you something to hold onto if you want to stop for a rest.

Warm clothes – It can take a while to warm up after swimming especially if the weather is chilly or windy. Take something warm to wear afterwards. A warm drink also helps!

For more information and to find places to swim:

http://www.outdoorswimmer.com/find/venues

http://www.swimming.org/openwater/

www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

I have a print above my desk that I glance at from time to time when working. It is entitled “Swim Wild” and has an ink drawing in shades of blue of a lady diving into water next to a poem by Steven Corbett:

“What’s a worry, once you’re in?

Let the lake evaporate all those thoughts on which you cogitate.

Let the slop chop of arm out, arm in silence that to-do list din.

When crawling through that vast reflected sky do not ask how or why?

Let the world dissolve into the current and the cold.

To your worries (for the moment) become reconciled

Swim free, swim wild”

Every time I read it, I smile and am transported to the lake at Divers Cove – its clear, cool waters and its friendly community of swimmers.

At the beginning of last summer, when we were learning how to navigate our way through this scary, confusing new world of lockdown and social distancing, of empty shelves in shops and hug-free virtual meetings – the lake was my oasis of calm and normality. Something safe, enjoyable, and allowed. Swimming in the lake, I am literally submerged in nature. I feel calm, relaxed, and happy. 

I am not alone in this – in 2020 it is estimated that between 1.5 to 3 times as many people tried Open Water Swimming for the first time. It also seems that swimming outdoors and especially in cold water may be more beneficial for our wellbeing than other forms of exercise.

  • During exercise the body releases endorphins and dopamine which are hormones that promote feelings of happiness and pleasure.
  • Exercising outdoors is even more effective. Research has shown that exercise in blue and/or green spaces increases the positive psychological results of exercise.
  • Immersion in cold water creates a stress reaction in your body, the so -called “fight or flight” mode. However, this reaction reduces after only a few times as the body adapts to the stress. Even better, this reduced reaction will also now apply to other forms of stress, both physical and psychological.
  • The outdoor swimming community is incredibly friendly and attracts people of all ages, sexes, shapes, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. By joining a local group or beginning to swim with people you already know, we can build on new and existing friendships

What do you need to get started?

A swimming costume and goggles – of course! It can be useful to have an extra pair of goggles with tinted lenses for sunny days.

A swimming hat – most venues require you to wear a brightly coloured hat so that you are clearly visible. They also help keep your head warm.

A wetsuit – not essential but they do keep you warm and help with buoyancy. There are lots of places you can hire a suit from to see if you like it before committing to buying.

A tow float – a small inflatable float that you attach around your waist. Not essential but they are inexpensive, help with visibility and if you are not wearing a wetsuit give you something to hold onto if you want to stop for a rest.

Warm clothes – It can take a while to warm up after swimming especially if the weather is chilly or windy. Take something warm to wear afterwards. A warm drink also helps!

For more information and to find places to swim:

http://www.outdoorswimmer.com/find/venues

http://www.swimming.org/openwater/

www.outdoorswimmingsociety.com

How to start?

If you are thinking about Getting More Active but aren’t sure where to start here is a short blog with some top tips! Of course, you can also contact the Get More Active project for some friendly support and ideas. Email getactive@surreycoalition.org.uk or phone/SMS text on 07434 865062

Get More Active – Getting Started!

We are probably all aware of the benefits of exercise, but it is not always easy to get started. Often there seem to be too many barriers preventing us from taking those first steps. The Get More Active Project is here to support you if you are not sure where to begin but, in the meantime, here are our top tips for starting out!

  • Check with your GP or healthcare team.

It’s always a good idea to get medical advice before starting exercise. If you are worried that being active might affect your benefits remember exercise or being more active is a legitimate way of managing physical and mental health conditions and it can be written into your health care plan. Your GP will also be able  to tell you if you are eligible for a Physical Activity Referral Scheme which can give you free access to local leisure centres for example.

  • Start small and build up gradually.

Government guidelines are to carry out 150 mins of moderate exercise a week. That can seem like an unattainable amount of time and what does “moderate exercise” even mean? Well, “moderate” simply means something that is increasing your heart rate and breathing rate – you shouldn’t be gasping for breath and should still be able to talk in full sentences.

Remember, though that any activity is better than nothing so aim to start slowly and build up gently. Just 10 minutes a day is a good start and isn’t too much time to find when you are getting going. By starting gently you will also give your body time to adapt so you are less likely to get injured or feel like it’s just too hard to keep going.

  • Build activity into your day.

Try to make small changes to your daily habits for example going for a short walk at lunchtime or, if you can, standing up to take a phone call when working. Perhaps you could add some dance moves to household chores? Think about when you feel you have the most energy. Perhaps it takes time for you to get going in the morning and so being active would be better later in the day or you may tend to tire towards the end of the day so morning activity would be better.

  • Find something you enjoy.

Maybe you hate the idea of exercise or being sweaty? Think about what you enjoy and see if there is a way you can combine it with activity.  If you don’t like feeling sweaty how about swimming? Swimming can also enable you to move in ways that may not be possible on land. If you enjoy music, how about trying dance or just having a bit of a boogie whilst you are doing household chores? Love nature? You could volunteer with a local conservation group.

Getting started can feel intimidating but it can be so much fun and empowering.

  • Make it sociable.

One of the great things about being more active is the opportunity to meet new people. Perhaps you could join a local group or meet up with a friend to try something new? Not only is it more fun to be active with other people but it can make it less scary, and you are more likely to do it.

  • What can I do at home?

If travelling is challenging for you or if you are concerned about getting out and about post lockdown, think about what you can do in your own home. There is a wealth of information and online classes or videos available especially following the pandemic. Many of these are specific to different disabilities for example MS Society or Wheelpower.

For individual support from the Get More Active Project get in touch:

Email: getactive@surreycoalition.org.uk

Phone or SMS text: 07434 865062