Dr Catherine Calderwood stressed the importance of walking as the easiest way to get physically active as she backed our Scottish Health Walk Network during its official launch in Edinburgh recently.
The new network offers support, training, funding and advice to projects delivering 550 Health Walks across Scotland every week.
The CMO’s endorsement comes as the Scottish walking charity’s network reached a milestone of 150 members.
Dr Calderwood said
I am delighted to help launch Paths for All’s Scottish Health Walk Network.
The importance of physical activity for health, and the value of walking as the easiest way to become more active, can’t be underestimated.
The breadth of the Scottish Health Walk Network in delivering 550 weekly Health Walks in all local authorities and health boards is impressive and important for the health of our population.
Dr Calderwood went on to add: "The accessibility of Health Walks for everyone, irrespective of ability is also vital. This will provide opportunities for health professionals to signpost patients to their local health walk, confident that it will be appropriate, safe and welcoming.
"This valuable network enhances the Scottish Government’s vision for a more active Scotland and contributes towards achieving Active Scotland’s Outcome Framework targets."
The Scottish Health Walk Network brings together projects of all shapes and sizes, all with the common goal of creating a happier, healthier Scotland by supporting communities to walk more.
The network aims to provide comprehensive support to organisations in Scotland delivering Health Walks which are free, local, low level, accessible for all, volunteer-led, and which last anything between 10 minutes and one hour.
It also aims to make health and social care professionals more confident about referring patients to Health Walks knowing that accredited projects have fulfilled strict Health Walk criteria.
Projects carrying membership are fully insured, led by our trained volunteers, and all walks are risk assessed, fully accessible and welcoming to all abilities.
Frances Bain, Walking for Health manager said: “We’re delighted the Chief Medical Officer has endorsed the Scottish Health Walk Network.
“Walking is the easiest, most accessible and effective way for most people to become more active. Walking more helps us all improve our health and wellbeing and reducing our risks of a number of health conditions.
“The Scottish Health Walk Network’s 150 members and their 550 weekly walks provide a social and supportive way for people to take those first steps to becoming more active, while at the same time engaging with their communities, local green spaces and volunteering opportunities.
“We’re hoping more people can be signposted to their local Health Walk by their health and social care professional, so they can experience the benefits and enjoyment of walking more.”
Eric Martin, volunteer Walk Leader from Balerno Footsteps for Fitness and a member of the network said: “The advantage of our group is that there are three categories of walks so all abilities are catered for. Each Health Walk ends with a coffee stop as the social aspect of the walks is also very important.
“We recently became a voluntary, cost-free group, but have been well supported by Paths for All in terms of information, training and insurance.
“I’d recommend Health Walks to anyone, and I hope that this network will encourage health professionals to direct people towards Health Walks like ours and others around Scotland.”
For more information on the Scottish Health Walk Network, click here.