As over 650 weekly Health Walks get going again, three people in very different situations have been sharing why going for a walk and a talk has made all the difference.
They include Helen from Stirling who became a widow earlier this year. The 80-year-old spent months caring from her ill husband before he passed away, but now she is feeling the benefits of being part of a Health Walk group.
Walking most weeks has helped me become much stronger and my stamina has got better. I used to struggle going up the stairs but now it just feels like a normal activity again which I am delighted about.
I’m really looking forward to getting back out doing something I enjoy and exploring my local area – it will be a great change of routine.
Being back on familiar paths in the glorious countryside, seeing an abundance of red squirrels from the Aberfoyle Lodge Hide, and having a coffee with new friends in the sunshine – what more could you want?
Since joining the Health Walk group I’ve seen and felt a big improvement to my mobility and general quality of life.
Health Walks are short, low level, free, sociable and led by trained volunteer Walk Leaders.
It means they are perfect for people who have not been active for a while or who have been encouraged to do move more.
Retiree Ian Kelly from East Kilbride first joined his local Health Walk eight years ago after being diagnosed with post traumatic stress and heart problems.
My doctor encouraged me to keep active and a few days later I noticed an advertisement in my local church about the walking group in East Kilbride.
The group has been essential to improving my overall wellbeing and it’s ideal to get out in the fresh air socialising with people who soon became friends.
The group helped me that much that three years after joining in 2016, I trained as a Health Walk Leader to give people the safe space I’d enjoyed so much.
The woodland is a beautiful walk and we’re extremely lucky to experience it in all weathers and seasons – admiring and focusing on nature helps me forget my worries.
Lockdown affected everyone differently but for me it was pretty isolating so it was a sign of normality when the Health Walks resumed.
Since returning, we’ve seen an increase in members, it has almost been one new member every week which is great news. I hope the new members get the same amazing benefits out of the group as I have.
Annmarie Kirkland (47) from Stepps joined the walking group after a long period of bad health. She knew it was time to make some changes.
The walks have had a significant impact on everyone in the group. From building a sense of community after feeling isolated during the pandemic, to knowing that we are doing something that has a positive impact on our health.
I get a lot of social benefits from the group as well; the companionship has made a really positive impact and I started noticing health improvements.
The group allows people experiencing difficulties to have a designated time every week to meet with like-minded individuals, relate to similar issues and share advice.
It has been a difficult year for many and walking helped the group come together and reconnect, all whilst doing something positive for our mental, physical and social wellbeing.
The relationships created within the group have flourished and we actually now have a community garden space to support one another outwith walking.
Helen Morrison, our Walking for Health Senior Development Officer said: “It is great to hear the ways individuals are benefiting from our Health Walks.
“Our Health Walk projects and volunteers are ready and excited to welcome new walkers along to their local walk and reap the social, mental and physical health benefits from getting outdoors and exercising with a group of local people.
“Each walk is led by a trained volunteer following Covid-19 government guidelines, and we hope this will provide those who don’t yet feel completely comfortable with getting out and about again the reassurance they need.
“If you haven’t been active in a while and are looking for some support to get moving, or you’ve missed connecting with people and are looking for some company, our Health Walks are a great place to start."
To find your local Health Walk, just search your town or postcode using our Health Walk map.