Yesterday my Twitter timeline was absolutely buzzing with the #WalkingWorks hashtag after the UK’s Walking For Health organisation published their ‘Walking Works’ report, showing how the Walking for Health scheme is already changing people’s lives for the better.
The report was produced by the Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support, who run Walking for Health, and supported by Public Health England. It provides an extensive overview of the mounting research into the life threatening consequences of inactivity, and concludes that walking is the answer. The report demonstrates that walking is a simple solution to getting the nation active.
If you would like to read a summary of the Walking Works report you can download it here:
Walking Works summary report (1.2MB, PDF)
The full report is available to download here:
Walking Works report (3.4MB, PDF)
Thanks to valuable input from Macmillan Cancer Support the report also highlights how physical activity can help prevent certain types of cancer, help manage the consequences of cancer treatment, and even help reduce the chance of some cancers returning.
Walking is a free, low-impact activity that requires no special equipment and almost everyone can do it, wherever they are. Although this solution is simple, it can make an enormous difference to your health and wellbeing.
I know that I am very fortunate to have easy access to the spectacular walking locations offered by the Slieve Bloom mountains, and also the passion that makes me to want to head off walking across them (I just lack the fitness and physique to pull it off convincingly – I’m working on that! haha!). But walking doesn’t have to be about striding up mountains if that doesn’t appeal to you! Simply head out of your front door, turn left or right, walk for 15 mins, turn around and walk back home, Congratulations, you’ve just done a 30 minute walk! Do that 5 or 6 times a week, and you will be feeling the benefits in no time…I can wholeheartedly vouch for that! If 30 minutes seems too daunting to start with (yes, I was that person!) then start with 10 minutes, perhaps even 5 minutes, and increase your time or distance when you feel you are able. I think it’s more important to just get moving. So set the pace and length to suit yourself. Start out gently and build up your pace and distance gradually as your body gets used to the exercise.
On the days where I can find a million excuses not to go out walking, I always remember this quote, I don’t remember where I saw it, but it has become my personal motivator, and it gets me out of the door, each and every time!
“You’ll never regret going for a run or walk, but you’ll always regret not going”
I track my walks using the Runkeeper App on my phone (other exercise tracking apps are also available!) and just for fun, I upload my Runkeeper sessions to Fitocracy for Fito points. It is a fun and easy way to stay on top of what I’ve done, and to easily see how I’m improving…and nothing motivates like progress!
Here in Ireland there are a few schemes in place, to help and encourage people to take up regular exercise and to help them start walking.
The Irish Heart Foundation have their well established Slí na Sláinte scheme. It uses attractive signage at kilometre intervals on established walking routes to help walkers identify the distance they walk. Slí na Sláinte is designed to encourage people to walk more frequently and to enjoy the benefits of a healthier lifestyle. There are over 190 Slí na Sláinte walking routes nationwide in partnership with local communities, Sports Partnerships, the HSE, Walking Leaders, Tidy Towns Committees and workplaces. With more and more Slí routes being developed and installed all over the country, you will most likely find a Slí na Sláinte route near you.
The Irish Heart Foundation have also set up a Walking Challenge. Every person who accumulates 100km or 1000 minutes and marks it on their Slí Challenge Record Sheet receives a specially designed Silver Slí Pin. Walk 500km or 5,000 minutes and a Gold Pin is your reward. It’s always good to have something to work towards!
Another scheme I came across recently was the Get Ireland Walking initiative. It exists to maximise the number of people participating in walking; for health, wellbeing and fitness, throughout Ireland. Get Ireland Walking is funded by the Irish Sports Council and the Health Service Executive (HSE), and led by Mountaineering Ireland. Get Ireland Walking list their aims as:
- Unify and enable the efforts of all recreation, sporting and health promotion agencies and associations interested in promoting walking;
- Increase awareness and encourage widespread participation in walking;
- Identify and support all existing walking groups;
- Support the development of new walking groups;
- Encourage and inspire those that wish to be independent walkers to do so;
- Promote the benefits of walking.
- Walking more ‘would save thousands’ (bbc.co.uk)
- 37,000 lives could be saved each year just by walking (economicvoice.com)
- How walking cuts the risk from cancer (express.co.uk)
- Walking away from disease (theyoucompany.wordpress.com)
- Walking for two and a half hours a week is ‘wonder drug’ that could save 37,000 lives (thetimes.co.uk)