Walking helping to boost health and wellbeing

Hazel with her walking group from Portishead.

Hazel with her walking group from Portishead. - Credit: Archant

People are being encouraged to keep active over the winter months to boost their health and wellbeing.
The lockdown in March inspired many people to walk, run and cycle more, and North Somerset Council is encouraging people to keep up with exercise in the colder weather. 
People can continue to exercise outside during the latest lockdown, as long as they are two metres apart from anyone not 
in their household or support bubble.
Exercise has a number of benefits – it boosts your immunity, aids sleep and concentration and improves your physical health and mental welllbeing.
Adults are encouraged to complete 150 minutes of moderate physical activity each week – or around 20 to 30 minutes a day.
North Somerset Council runs health walks across the district, to help people improve their fitness and meet other people.
Walking for Health welcomes more than 300 regular walkers a week in and around Clevedon, Long Ashton, Nailsea, Portishead, Weston, Winscombe, Worle and Yatton.
The groups are led by volunteers and although they are unable to meet at the moment, many members have been keeping in touch during the pandemic.
Walk leaders have spoken out about the huge benefits of the regular walks and the friendships they have made through the groups.
Hazel, walk leader with for Portishead, said: “I really miss my Monday walks. I know it is really valued by a great many people, judging by the number of people who join us. 
“I always feel it is such a positive way to start the week. Exercise, good company and frequently picturesque scenery. 
“Living here we are so fortunate to have a good variety of great walks all so close by. 
“As I am over 80, I am confined to my own patch, so when walking briskly around my garden I form pictures in my head of many of our grand walks. 
“I’m really looking forward to getting my walking boots on when it is safe to do so.”                                               

Vivian, who runs health walks in Nailsea, has made new friends through the group and they have been keeping in touch during the pandemic. 
Talking about the benefits of being part of the group, she said: “I have made lots of new friends, have learnt a lot about my home town and enjoyed the fact that every Monday I will have an enjoyable walk and a good chat with everyone. With a lot of our walkers confined to their homes I also know who to contact for a chat and they have been phoning me, so although we are not walking now, thanks to our walks, communication is still open.”

Walk leaders Diane Bennett, Gordon Bennett, John Wilson and Vivian Parsons with North Somerset Counc

Walk leaders Diane Bennett, Gordon Bennett, John Wilson and Vivian Parsons with North Somerset Council's Kira Thorpe. - Credit: Archant

Vivian has been walking more since the start of the pandemic. She said: “We are fortunate in Nailsea to have access to fields and even on the pavements everyone is very careful to keep a distance. 
“We are out every day for our hour walk and probably walk now more than I would do before the virus.”
Angie, a walk leader from Long Ashton, said: “Becoming a health walk leader is one of the best things I have ever done. I have made new friends and our group feels very much like an extended family.
“To see the more elderly members becoming fitter and stronger is so encouraging. 
“When we first started, three years ago, some of our members could only just manage to walk a mile, very slowly. Now they are doing a brisk two-and-a-half mile walk. What used to be our long walk is even too short for our short walk. Mondays have 
become my favourite day of the week.”
Walking enthusiasts can pick information on new routes on the Better Health website by logging on to www.walkingforhealth.org.uk
People can also download the free ‘Active 10’ walking app and ‘Couch to 5k’ running app to give them a little inspiration.
Tips and information on local routes for cyclists can be found by logging on to www.lovetoride.net/uk
For more details and support on how to stay fit and active, log on to go4lifens.wordpress.com

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