New 'green' outdoor gym opens at Fife hospital

A new ‘green’ outdoor gym has opened for patients at Stratheden Hospital thanks to a £40,000 grant from the Fife Health Charity.

Friday, 18th June 2021, 2:51 pm
The new gym equipment.
The new gym equipment.

Stratheden Hospital near Cupar is a psychiatric hospital, caring for adults across eight inpatient wards.

The benefits of physical exercise in improving mental health are well-established and Stratheden Hospital already offers a range of opportunities for physical activity and exercise through the physiotherapy department, with the existing indoor gym an integral part of helping patients to manage their conditions and supporting their rehabilitation.

The Covid-19 pandemic limited the opportunities for inpatients at the hospital to make use of the indoor gym facilities due to the necessity for physical distancing and enhanced infection prevention measures in enclosed spaces.

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Following a funding application to the Fife Health Charity, £40,000 was awarded to create a new outdoor ‘green’ gym area using funds received from NHS Charities Together, the national organisation of NHS charities brought to prominence by the fundraising efforts of Captain Sir Tom Moore.

Fiona McGuire, interim lead nurse for Specialist Mental Health Services across Fife, said: “Evidence shows that exercise can be really beneficial, not only in terms of improving physical health but also in helping to improve mental wellbeing too.

“The indoor gym at Stratheden Hospital has been a vital part of patient treatment for very many years, however, the control measures brought in to control the Covid-19 pandemic prevented many patients from being able to make proper therapeutic use of the facilities.

“The addition of the new ‘green’ gym will enable far greater numbers of patients to get physical exercise, and because the facility is outdoors they will be able to exercise in small groups without the same restrictions as an indoor gym.

“Perhaps even more importantly, where the existing indoor gym is only available during weekdays, patients will be able to use the new outdoor facilities 7 days a week and evenings too, which is really beneficial for our patients as many have difficulties attending activities at set times due to the nature of their conditions.”

The new gym has been purposefully built in an area of the hospital grounds which provide ease of access for patients across the hospital, and where footfall is maximised to encourage opportunistic activity and help to establish long-term lifestyle changes that benefit patients physical and mental wellbeing.

A wide-range of outdoor gym equipment has been made available to ensure there are activities suitable for everyone, regardless of fitness or experience.

Christina Cooper, a non-executive member of the NHS Fife Board and a trustee of the Fife Health Charity, added: “The Covid-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of healthcare services, not least mental health provision such as those provided here at Stratheden Hospital.

“We know how important exercise is in helping to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing, and physical activity is already well-embedded as a tool to help patients’ in their rehabilitation and manage their ongoing mental health.

“As a trustee of the Health Charity, I’m delighted to see such a project come to fruition which will provide real and tangible benefits for patients cared for here at Stratheden, both now and in the years to come.”