Walk to live long

Could you or someone you know benefit from getting a little more active this year? Paths for All, Scotland’s national walking charity, explains how a simple walk can be the perfect activity to keep you happy, healthy and active in later life.

At Paths for All, we support over 500 Health Walks taking place across Scotland every week. From Kirkwall to Galashiels, all Health Walks are free, accessible, fun, and open to everyone! We’ve trained thousands of volunteers to safely lead these health walks in local communities. They are always looking for new walkers and volunteers to join, making it the perfect way to meet new people in your area whilst getting active.

If you’re unsure joining a Health Walk group is right for you, have a chat with the project coordinator and they’ll explain what’s involved and how they can support you.

The benefits of Health Walks are amazing. Here’s how some of our Health Walkers describe the social and mental benefits they have gained from taking part:

“It’s a rewarding experience, participating with a diverse, active and interesting group of walkers.”

“I do not walk on my own. I need the company and companionship of the group for encouragement.”

The physical health benefits are great too. Our infographic sums it up:


It’s simple to find your nearest Health Walk, head to the Paths for All website and use our map to find a Health Walk local to you. If you’d prefer to speak to someone, you can call the Paths for All office on 01259 218 888 and we’ll happily tell you what’s going on in your area.

Walking is the easiest way to get active and enjoy the benefits, we can help you start sooner than you think – why wait to get all the benefits just by going for a walk?

Time for a wee ramble

Ramblers Scotland has 56 walking groups across Scotland and the number is increasing. So what is it about walking that’s got so many people heading outdoors?

Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy activity that would improve your physical and mental health, lower your risk factors in a range of illnesses, give you a chance to enjoy quality time with old friends and to make new ones, and that you could do throughout most of your life? Well, there is, and it’s as simple as going for a walk.

Walking is an excellent all-round exercise. Almost everyone can do it, anywhere and at any time – and it’s free. You don’t need special clothing and it’s easy to fit into your daily routine. Older adults should aim to walk for around half an hour on most days of the week, but doing any exercise at all is better than nothing. If you’re unfit you can start slowly and build up gradually.

There are real health benefits from being more active; it helps protect the body from many illnesses and conditions, such as heart disease, strokes and osteoarthritis, and also helps to lift depression and improve mental health. But never mind all the health benefits, it’s also enjoyable. Walking helps you to collect your thoughts and appreciate the changing Lochwinnoch BP photo
seasons as you walk throughout the year, and it’s also a sociable activity. 
Walking in a group helps reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation and increases social contact. It also means you may be more likely to turn out on a cold morning, and to keep up the activity over time.

Ramblers Scotland has 56 walking groups across Scotland, all with walk programmes led and organised by volunteers, and they often also include social events. Non-members are welcome to go on a few walks for free before deciding whether you’d like to join us. You can be sure of a warm welcome and a good chat with like-minded people. As Dot, one of our members in Dalgety Bay, says, “I joined the Ramblers when I first retired as I was looking for something to do. I never expected I would get so much pleasure out of walking with my group. As well as being much fitter now and making lots of friends, I’ve loved getting to visit Scotland’s fantastic countryside.”

Cunninghame - New Lanark

If you want to explore your local neighbourhood, our Medal Routes project has gathered over 600 short, circular routes of 15, 30 and 60 minutes – bronze, silver and gold medal routes – from Dumfries to Shetland, which help you to get out and about. They are all available from our website. We also have a routes database, Ramblers Routes, which has route suggestions across Scotland, with shorter walks free to download for non-members.

For information on finding your local group, call 0131 472 7006 or email scotland@ramblers.org.uk. or visit our website

Walking towards better Strength and Balance

17-21 June is National Falls Awareness Week. Guest blogger Lindsey Gray from Scottish charity, Paths for All explains why walking together with Strength and Balance exercises is a winning combination for reducing risk of falls.

Stirling Walking Network, photo courtesy of Paths for All

Stirling Walking Network, photo courtesy of Paths for All

Falling should not be an expected part of ageing and the good news is there are simple steps everyone can take to reduce their risk.    Here at Paths for All, we’ve been developing group Health Walks for older adults for over 10 years because we’ve long known the benefits of walking and being active.

Being active alone, improves mobility and keeps bones strong. Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer recommends we should be active for at least 150 minutes per week, that’s 30 minutes on 5 days of the week. Achieving this reduces risk of many diseases including strokes and diabetes, gives a stronger heart, reduces instance of dementia and gives stronger bones – all resulting in a longer, healthier more independent life.

The exciting news is that when walking is combined with Strength and Balance exercises – the improvements to functional fitness, bone density and reduction in falls is even greater.  We’ve just launched a toolkit of exercises ‘Walk Your Way to Better Strength and Balance’ – a programme of 10 simple exercises, such as knee bends and toe raises, to perform at least twice a week, with a daily walk.

Walkers from Stirling Walking Network who were among the first to use our Strength and Balance exercises alongside their existing weekly Health Walks felt the benefits, saying:

“My balance when walking has greatly improved. I feel much more confident, and I don’t wobble nearly so much. I can carry my cup of coffee without spilling it!”

 “I have found the “tip toe” exercises useful. I can now reach up to my high shelves, and I no longer need to ask for help.”

 “A great way to help yourself to stay independent, and improve your overall health”

Dawn Skelton, Professor in ageing and health at Glasgow Caledonian University recommends the combination of walking with strength and balance exercises to boost health and help people live independently for longer. She gives this simple advice ‘a bit of effort can bring a huge return. It’s never too late to start.’

Paths for All’s Walk Your Way to Better Strength and Balance toolkit includes a set of laminated cue cards for easy demonstration in groups and a leaflet to take home and practice. If you’re looking to organise a class or group activity, we also offer training.  Visit www.pathsforall.org.uk/strength to find out more.   Paths for All Health Walks, are short, free, safe, sociable group walks and are led by a trained Walk Leader. Walks take place all across Scotland – find one near you www.pathsforall.org.uk.