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The Western Isles offers free short Health Walks to support islanders to get active outdoors in each other’s company.

Led by trained Volunteer Walk Leaders, who worked hard to keep their Health Walks going during the pandemic, they also lead Dementia Friendly and Cancer Friendly Walks.

Fiona Stokes, Walk Leader with Pairc Trust in South Lochs, said: “Something as simple as a walk in the fresh air is good for all of us, so giving that bit of extra support to someone living with dementia is important to help them maintain their own quality of life.”

All Health Walk routes are risk assessed, less than an hour long and are aimed at inactive people who would benefit most from doing more physical activity. This can include people who haven’t been active for a while and would like to start again, people recovering from ill health or who are managing a long-term condition, and anyone who’s been told by a health professional that they would benefit from being more active.

Despite the pandemic, Walk on Hebrides achieved their Dementia Friendly Walking accreditation earlier this year by up-skilling volunteers in how to lead a safe and friendly walk, re-risk assessing routes to ensure they are inclusive as possible, making local partnerships and utilising resources which benefit all participants, such as name badges.

Jeanne Mackay, Health Improvement Practitioner with NHS Western Isles, said: “Health Walks on the Western Isles are successful thanks to all the time and effort Walk Leaders put into planning, risk assessing and leading these walks. We appreciate all the wonderful Walk Leaders for doing what they do.”

A Pairc Trust walk

Anne Wilson, Walk Leader with Grimsay Health Walks reports:“We now have a regular group of walkers who enjoy both the exercise and the social contact. The latter has been particularly important during the pandemic and we all hugely value the friendships which have formed within our group over the last 2 years.”  

Kirsty Rankin, Walking for Health Manager with Paths for All is encouraging anyone who wants to get more active, meet more people and have fun, to join their local Health Walk. She said:

“The best thing about walking is that it's completely free and can be incorporated into everyday life. Walking is a low risk and accessible activity that can help to prevent a range of health conditions and falls in older adults.”

“It’s great that there are so many Health Walks taking place across the Western Isles who will all offer a friendly welcome to any new walkers.”

“I would encourage everyone to take the first step to a healthier 2022 by joining their local Health Walk.”

Find your nearest Health Walk using Paths for All’s online map at www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder

Find out more about Paths for All’s Dementia Friendly Walking on their website www.pathsforall.org.uk