Step this way for a healthier you


Step this way for a healthier you

The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) Health Improvement Department is encouraging people to pull on their walking boots or trainers and ‘Walk for Health’.


Walking for Health is a regional programme introduced in Northern Ireland in 2001 to encourage people who are inactive to increase their level of physical activity by participating in local led health walks. Health walks are suitable for people of all ages and abilities and not only promote the physical health benefits of being active, but encourage positive mental health and social interaction.


There are 43 public and private walking groups across the Western Trust area. Those interested in leading local walking groups complete a one day training course delivered by the Western Trust’s Health Improvement Department which enables them to lead groups on health walks in their local communities.  Trained Walk Leaders are then offered insurance cover, Heartstart Emergency Life Support Training, promotional materials, and support to organise walking groups through their workplaces, church or community groups.


The Western Trust’s Health Improvement Officer and Walking for Health Coordinator, Lesley Finlay said: "Research confirms that it is now recommended that adults and older people should participate in two and a half hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week and that all adults should aim to do some physical activity each day.” Shanthallow Strollers Walking Group


“Walking on a regular basis can really help you meet this physical activity target and is an ideal exercise for most people as it can be done anytime, anyplace with friends, family members or work colleagues.  Walking is free, fun and has huge benefits for your health.” 


Sadie Brown, Walk Coordinator for the Shantallow Strollers commented on the benefits of taking part in the ‘Walking for Health’ campaign, she said: “Our members meet twice a week and usually walk for up to fifty minutes. Walking allows us to improve our physical health as well as giving us a burst of energy for the day ahead.”


“Some of our members could only walk for a short amount of time when they joined us, now they can walk for the full fifty minutes. It’s also a great way to get out and socialise."


Colm Deehan, Acting Manager for Foyle Disability Resource Centre, added: “Our service users at the centre greatly enjoy the health and social benefits of the walking groups.  We walk in various locations in Derry and surrounding areas and many clients have found that walking has helped reduce their weight, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels and increase their overall fitness levels.”

If you are interested in being trained as a Volunteer Walk Leader or would like further information about a Walking for Health group in your area, please contact Lesley Finlay on (028) 7186 5127.