12/08/2011 - Permalink

Local health walk scheme wins national accolade

Related topics: Community / Health

A popular health walk scheme which is improving the well-being of local people in Shrewsbury is celebrating a major milestone after being officially declared good for people’s health.

The Walking for Health scheme, run by Shropshire Council, has received national accreditation from Natural England’s Walking for Health initiative, the largest national body promoting and setting the standards for led health walks.

This accolade confirms the Shrewsbury scheme, which has walks starting from Hanwood Village Hall and Pontesbury Medical Practice, as meeting the highest standards for leading local walks, safety and health monitoring.

Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for health and well-being, said:

“I am delighted that our scheme has been given accreditation as part of a national health programme and this reflects all the hard work and enthusiasm that has gone into making the scheme such a success.

“There are so many benefits of taking regular exercise and walking is a fantastic way of keeping fit – it’s fun and a great way of introducing exercise into your life.”

Mick Dunn, one of Shropshire Council’s Walking for Health co-ordinators, added:

“Walking with a Walking for Health group is a fantastic way to take regular exercise, meet new people and enjoy your local green space.  Our walks, led by trained walk leaders, are free and cater for all abilities; all you need is a comfortable pair of shoes, appropriate clothing and enthusiasm.”

As an accredited scheme, it will benefit from being seen as part of a nationally-evaluated scheme as well as being formally recognised by health professionals, prospective partners and funders.

The weekly walking routes are planned throughout the year by the walk leaders according to the needs of the group, and last around an hour.  They are free of charge and are suitable for all ages, fitness levels and abilities.

The aim is to get people of all ages and fitness levels out walking locally, providing a sociable, safe and healthy way for local people to improve their fitness for free.  It’s also a great way for people who may normally take little exercise to meet other walkers, take in the local landscape and have fun.

People interested in joining one of the Shrewsbury walks or training as a volunteer walk leader (the next walk leader course is on 7 October 2011) should contact the scheme co-ordinator, Liz Evans, on 01743 255059 or email walkingforhealth@shropshire.gov.uk

Walking for Health (WfH) is the largest national body promoting and setting the standards for led health walks. It is a Natural England initiative.

WfH aims to get more people walking in their own communities, especially those who take little exercise or live in areas of poor health.  The initiative has helped to create 590 local health walk schemes across England and has trained over 40,000 Volunteer Walk Leaders.  We support schemes through training for walk leaders, advice on setting up a new scheme, insurance, evaluation and free leaflets to help promote walking.

These health walks are free to participants and provide an easy way of getting regular exercise.  There is compelling evidence of the benefits of moderate physical activity.  Those who exercise enjoy greater life expectancy with reduced risks of coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, colonic cancer and osteoporosis.  Walking can also be a catalyst for connecting people with many other aspects of health, such as healthy eating, stopping smoking and relaxation.

Many WfH health walk schemes have their own web page on the WfH Walk Finder, displaying details of their walks and how to get involved.

Details of local Walking for Health groups throughout Shropshire can be found by clicking here.