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Park Talk: Walk the Walk

27th October 2022

by Dr Gaener Rodger, Convener of the CNPA Planning Committee

I am loving the autumn colours right now and for me the best way to enjoy the season is to get out for a walk. Not even a long walk, just 30 minutes is enough to lift my mood and give me a sense of wellbeing.

Autumn is when we celebrate Wee Walks Week in the Cairngorms National Park. While we can enjoy walking in the Park all year round, this week we like to celebrate our short local walks and encourage everyone to get outdoors.

It may seem simple enough – you put on your shoes, jacket and step out the door – but for some people, the idea of those first steps can be daunting. So Wee Walks Week is designed to give people the confidence to start a new walking habit that will provide them with lasting benefits for both their physical and mental health.

This week we have been promoting our extensive community path network to provide inspiration on where to go for a wee walk. Did you know, we have 18 community path leaflets with maps and descriptions of the walks around the villages and towns in the Park? Why not explore a community that is not your own? You can download any leaflet you want or use the online tool to plan your walk.

If heading out alone does not appeal then there are groups operating across the Park that can help you step out with a trained volunteer Health Walk leader. This is a very supportive way to get active on a regular basis and sociable too! These walks are short, low-level and often involve a tea or coffee afterwards. Again, head over to the Park Authority website to find your nearest Health Walk.

This week also sees the start of a new initiative in partnership with NHS staff in Aviemore to pilot ‘first steps’ self guided walks. A series of A5 flyers have been developed that can be distributed to patients by physio teams, occupational health practitioners, social workers and other health care providers, to those who would benefit from getting out for a walk. These ‘first steps’ walks – or micro walks – are designed to help people take those first brave steps to getting outside for the benefit of their health. And maybe progressing to something a little longer in the future.

In Ballater, the Health Walk group have been recruiting more participants as well as new volunteer walk leaders. Interested? Then do please get in touch by calling 01479 873535.

Studies show that walking is an effective form of exercise – just 30 minutes a day is enough to make a significant difference to your health. It reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, and type two diabetes as well as keeping the musculoskeletal system healthy. It promotes good mental health and wellbeing and can help tackle issues around social isolation. So please do make a wee walk part of your daily routine, not just for Wee Walks Week.