Blog: Walk back better with Paths for All
Published on 18 December 2020 12:23 PM
Scotland’s walking charity, Paths for All, wants us all to walk more every day and everywhere as we move into our ‘new normal’.
The charity, who believe that walking is the perfect activity to look after our physical, mental and social health, offers support and guidance to help us all walk more and feel the difference.
Short, regular walks can have lots of benefits including:
- preventing a range of health conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, some cancers and Alzheimer’s
- reducing falls in older adults
- helping you sleep better and manage pain
- boosting self-esteem and reducing anxiety and depression
- combatting loneliness and improving connections with community
The best part about walking is almost everyone can do it – no matter their age, income, gender or ability. It is the easiest and most accessible form of physical activity that can become part of everyday life, it is free and no special equipment is needed.
Join your local Health Walk
Health Walks are free, short, safe, social and accessible walks led by trained volunteers. Paths for All supports a network of over 200 community Health Walk projects across Scotland that organise these free group walks every week which are always looking for new walkers. They are always looking for new members and are a supportive and welcoming way to start enjoying the many benefits of being physically active.
Health Walks are open to everyone but are particularly great for people who haven’t been active for a while and would like to start again, people recovering from ill health or who are managing a long-term condition and anyone who has been told by a health professional that they would benefit from being more active. Some walk leaders have extra training in dementia and/or cancer awareness which enables their groups to offer dementia friendly and/or cancer friendly walks.
Many people also join Health Walks because of the social and mental health benefits they get from taking part. Betty, a health walker from Moray, joined her local walk to help regain her confidence after her husband passed away.
“Joining the walking group has brought me valuable friendship at a crucial time and made me motivated to get up and out once more. I cannot thank the walk leaders and my fellow walkers enough for giving me a purpose again, a reason to keep going and try new things. They have been instrumental in building my confidence in both my walking ability and interacting with people I previously did not know but now consider as friends,” she says.
“At first I was slow and would stop a lot. But the walk leaders were always so supportive and patient. It was their reassurance that kept me going.”
You can search the online map for Health Walks in your area at: www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder. There are normally over 650 Health Walks taking place each week across the country, however they have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic so we would advise contacting your local project to check arrangements before attending a walk for the first time. If you have any queries about the walks, or are interested in volunteering as a walk leader, email Paths for All at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Stay active and independent with strength and balance exercises
Regular walking plus strength and balance exercises provide the key to an active, happy and healthy older age.
Paths for All produced a set of simple strength and balance exercises for adults who want to live life to the full! Their set of 10 exercises are designed to keep you strong and balanced – reducing the risk of falls.
The UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines recommend that all adults should incorporate activity to improve muscle strength twice a week and adults over 65 should also do activity that improves balance and coordination twice a week. Strength & Balance exercises are particularly important now, as many may have become deconditioned during lockdown.
Paths for All’s strength and balance exercises can be done as part of your everyday routine – for example by doing some knee bends whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or doing the sit to stand exercise during the advert breaks when you’re watching TV.
You can download a free leaflet of the exercises, or watch a video clip to follow along whilst doing the exercises by visiting www.pathsforall.org.uk/strength
For more information and inspiration to walk more and feel the difference, visit www.pathsforall.org.uk
Supporting care home residents to walk more
Paths for All also offer support and resources for care homes in Scotland.
In partnership with Perth & Kinross Health & Social Care Partnership and other organisations, Paths for All worked with care homes and consulted with residents living with dementia to create the ‘Care about Walking’ resource pack. This pack supports care home residents to walk more by increasing awareness of the benefits of physical activity and using goal setting and activity tracking to record progress and achievements.
You can download the ‘Care About Walking’ information pack, guidance note for staff, posters and wall chart by visiting www.pathsforall.org.uk/walking-for-health/dementia-friendly-walking/care-about-walking
Paths for All has also produced outdoor panels and indoor wall stickers which promote both supported and self-led Strength & Balance activity and runs training courses for staff working with older adults in health and care settings.
This is a guest article which appeared in the Autumn/Winter edition of Age Scotland's Advantage magazine.