It’s is one of the biggest milestones in our early years, but once learned is almost as automatic as breathing. Stand up, move one leg, then the other. Repeat the movement a few times, and you’re walking. As TV’s talking Meerkat would say – ‘simples.’
For active ageing experts and the Scottish Government, however, getting older people walking is a major ambition and challenge. Physical activity levels amongst older people in Scotland are low and decline with age. The 2008 Scottish Health Survey reported that of those older adults in the 65 – 74 age range only around one fifth of men and women were meeting the guideline of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on 5 or more days a week. For over 75s the figure dropped to 13 percent of men and 4 per cent of women amongst. If you want to know why light exercise matters so much for health and wellbeing in later life, you can hear direct from the experts and try out active ageing activity tasters at the World Congress on Active Ageing between Tuesday and Friday (Seniors’ and Carers’ Passes are available on the door.)
The Walk With Me Challenge 2012, launching at today to mark the start of the World Congress, is about encouraging people aged 65 and older to walk more. It’s organised by the British Heart Foundation National Centre for Physical Activity and Health at Loughborough University (BHFNC) with a range of partners including Paths for All (Scotland) and with support from the Scottish Government. The big idea is to recruit regular walkers as ‘Champions’ who then invite others to join them on walks, so there’s companionship, mutual support and encouragement built into the activity.
If you are in Glasgow this morning and would like a flavour of what’s involved, why not join the launch event at 11am with a celebratory walk along the Clyde, beginning and ending at the SECC, organised by Glasgow Life in collaboration with local walking groups.
Could you be a Walk With Me Challenge Champion, or think that you could benefit from the programme? For more information call Frances Bain at Paths for All Scotland on 01463 725 125 or email Frances.Bain@pathsforall.org.uk.