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Peak Running: empowering individuals to embrace nature and boost wellbeing through Trail Therapy

"We firmly believe that exercise should be inclusive, offering enjoyment to everyone. For a while now, we have been organizing regular weekly off-road trails and witnessing remarkable transformations in the fitness, confidence, and wellbeing of our participants. Strong friendships have blossomed within our community."

12 Feb 2024

That’s why Andy Brooks, founder of Peak Running, a dedicated group of outdoor enthusiasts, is on a mission to remove barriers preventing people from experiencing the transformative benefits of exercising outdoors.

It's well known that spending time outside, surrounded by nature, has many benefits, including improving mental wellbeing as well as physical health.

But it’s not always easy for some people to get out there to benefit from exploring the woodlands and countryside. Fear of getting lost, personal safety, lack of skills, confidence levels, or simply not having anyone to go with can be real barriers for people who may also feel they simply don’t have the right level of fitness to start exercising outdoors.



To address this gap, Peak Running, a Derbyshire based CIC, is in the process of training eight new activity leaders for its innovative Trail Therapy events, thanks to a grant from the National Forest Company.

What makes Trail Therapy truly special is the flexibility it offers. Most of the routes provide the option to jog or walk, catering to individual preferences and abilities. Participants are encouraged to embrace the beauty of their surroundings, immersing themselves in the healing power of nature without feeling pressured to run or go faster than they’re comfortable with.

Andy Brooks added "However," he continues, "we recognise that our impact has only scratched the surface of those who could benefit from this kind of activity."

“So, we’re thrilled that, with the help of a National Forest Society Grant, we're able to increase the number of Trail Therapy running and walking activities we do across the National Forest area.”

These guided sessions, held across the National Forest, typically last between 75 and 90 minutes and are led by supportive leaders, ensuring that nobody feels pressured or gets left behind

What’s more, most of the routes offer a jog or walk option, so there is no need for people to run if they don’t want to.



36-year-old Katie Heelas is one of the new Trail Therapy leaders. She applied after a friend told her about it. “When my friend mentioned putting myself forward for the trail therapy leader role, it initially took me by surprise,” she said.

“But as I thought about the idea, how much I had benefited from both walking and running out in the beautiful countryside, and the positive effects nature has had on my mental health, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to give back and help others.

“I can say with confidence that once we do get out in clean open air, there really is nothing like it. Reconnecting ourselves with nature and spoiling our senses promotes positive living for sure.”

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