Whether you walk much or not, the chances are you spend more time walking alone rather than with other people. However, walking can become a much more fun and enjoyable activity when you do it with others. Working as a team to support, motivate and encourage each other, walking groups can be particularly great for those who spend a lot of time solitary or indoors.
Some of the many benefits of social walking include:
- Improving both physical and mental health
- A way to meet and connect with others with similar interests
- Explore your local area in a new way
- Get some fresh air
- Make new friends in your community
Josephina lives on her own and admits she enjoys her own space, but a routine visit to pick up a prescription ended in her joining a walking group- and loving it!
She says “I discovered the walking activity at my surgery by chance a year ago, when I saw a group of people getting ready to go for a walk and I joined them instantly with the wrong flat shoes on, after all I was only picking up a prescription when I noticed the excitement as I entered the surgery that day”.
“The group standing there made me feel I wanted to try it, join them for one day only to see what it was like, so I did, and I have been going since. I noticed straight away that there were others like me from all ages living alone, some with families living not far away and I also discovered as days went by that not only people turned up to keep fit, had health issues but that we had a lot of things in common such as gardening, sharing historical stories from the local area, laughter, sewing, art ideas, DIY, photos, triviality too”.
There is a real sense of community in a walking group, and no one is made to feel left out or like they slow the group down- even four legged friends are welcome to join.
“The walking activity is not a marathon; we wait for each other. Some walk faster than others but kindly wait or come back and join the slow ones, smiling. Charlie the leader’s dog joins us every Thursday morning and she is an invaluable piece to the puzzle, she brings joy to the session no doubt about it”.
For Josephina, the walking group has become a regular fixture she relies on and looks forward to in her week.
“The walking activity makes me get up, get ready to meet a group of kind, caring people, and it has become very important to me. I need them but I don’t tell them. I have health issues like everybody has and it really helps me, winter temperature does not discourage me either once the 1 hour 15 minute session is over I go back to my world of solitude which is still there waiting for me and I adore, but not before we pay a visit to the local library for a cup of tea and a biscuit where everybody is also very kind, fun and friendly”.
If you would like to see what walking activities are available in your local area, and discover the benefits of social walking yourself, visit www.parklives.com for a full list of activities, as well as The Big Run Project who also offer walking groups at www.bigrunproject.org