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Highlanders urged to take steps to physical and mental wellbeing as restrictions continue


By Louise Glen

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Thomas Ferguson.
Thomas Ferguson.

A WALKING charity is encouraging Highlanders to get outdoors and walk locally to boost mental and physical wellbeing as a second national lockdown came into effect this week.

Scotland’s national walking charity, Paths for All, has encouraged the public to explore local walking routes in a bid to help combat social isolation, anxiety and loneliness whilst maintaining physical health.

This comes following the launch of the charity’s Walk Once a Day this Winter campaign, which is asking people to make the pledge of walking every day throughout January.

The campaign includes an online hub which outlines the importance of walking and regular physical activity during the winter months.

A variety of activities and ideas, designed to motivate individuals of all ages, are available on the hub with podcast recommendations, creative walking advice and prize incentives.

Ian Findlay CBE.
Ian Findlay CBE.

Ian Findlay, chief officer at Paths for All, said: “Yet again our country faces a significant challenge in which we must all do our bit to keep everyone, including ourselves, safe and healthy.

“In what is traditionally the time of year which sees a surge of gym memberships and fitness plans we suggest taking up walking instead as part of our New Year’s resolutions.

“With walking being one of the few essential reasons for leaving your home, it is the perfect exercise and now is the time to get into a walking exercise routine which is consistent with the current Government guidelines.Walking can help with our social health as the guidelines allow us to meet with one person from one other household outside.

“Last year we saw an increase in Scots taking up walking during the first lockdown and the outcome has highlighted just how many benefits are attributed to walking and how outdoor exercise as many times a day as we can has become an important way to look after physical and mental wellbeing.”

An opinion survey in April 2020 by YouGov April found Scots were more likely to walk following pandemic restrictions than the rest of the UK and that 61 per cent of Scots said they walked more now than they did before the restrictions.

Throughout the first national lockdown many people found walking to be an essential component of their day to keep healthy and motivated.

64-year-old Thomas Ferguson, believes walking has made him physically and mentally stronger.

Mr Ferguson said: “Walking has saved me. I could feel myself getting weaker and weaker, growing older, and for a period I would struggle to move anywhere without feeling pain in my legs.

“Yet, through perseverance and self-intervention I began walking again and I can feel myself recovering physically and mentally – it was like a medicine for me.

“I will never again underestimate the power of walking.”

Paths for All believes regular walking is key to leading a happy and healthy life, and it’s even more important for people to continue enjoying short, local walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so with the huge array of associated benefits.

Paths for All’s aim is to significantly increase the number of people who choose to walk in Scotland, whether it’s walking for leisure or walking to work, school or to the shops.

The charity works to create more opportunities and better environments not just for walking, but also for cycling and other activities to help make Scotland a more active, more prosperous and greener country.

Paths for All’s focus is clear: it wants to get Scotland walking: everyone, every day, everywhere.

Follow the campaign over on Paths for All social media channels #WalkOnceADay.

For more information on Paths for All and the Walk Once a Day this Winter campaign, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/lets-walk/walk-once-a-day-this-winter


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