With about two thirds of adults in the UK not doing enough physical activity* there is a clear need to provide support for people to become and stay active. Walking is easy, free and accessible to nearly everyone, no matter what their physical abilities or health. Even better, walking in a group provides not only the physical benefits of walking, but also the opportunity for social contact and the support of others.
Walking for Health is England’s national network of health walk schemes, offering free short walks over easy terrain led by trained walk leaders. The brainchild of GP Dr William Bird, who started leading health walks from his surgery in 1996, Walking for Health is now a national programme. It supports around 600 local schemes across England that deliver a range of group walks for over 75,000 regular walkers.
Since April 2012 the Walking for Health national centre has been run by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support. This centre delivers strategic guidance for the overall programme and provides schemes with support and free resources such as training, insurance, and national promotion. The local schemes are run by a variety of organisations including councils, the NHS, charities and voluntary groups.
Walking for Health walks are developed to be accessible to people who have done little or no exercise before, or who need more support to stay active than they have in the past. They’ve already benefited a huge range of people across England, and we and Macmillan hope to extend their reach further, ensuring that they’re helping the people who need the most support to get and stay active.
Working with Macmillan, we aim to ensure that everyone will have access to a short, free and friendly health walk within easy reach of where they live, to help them to become and stay more active.
If you’d like to find out more about Walking for Health or find your nearest scheme, visit www.walkingforhealth.org.uk, contact the Walking for Health team or watch the video below.
I’m much fitter than I was, I’ve got more energy and I’ve lost weight. I have never felt so well and joining the health walks is the best thing that has happened to me.
Ann JacobsWalking for Health participant