It’s no surprise that many people’s new years resolutions involve health and fitness, after all of the over-indulgences, mince pies and celebratory drinks at Christmas. Gyms are crowded and lycra-clad cyclists zip past on their new bikes, but did you know that walking is one of the best ways to keep fit? And best of all - it’s absolutely free!
‘Wirral Walk On’ was one of the first walking programmes in the country, led initially by the NHS but now co-ordinated by Wirral Council. It runs 14 free weekly walks around Wirral, plus additional walks in the summer. The walks can be short or long to suit all abilities and are led by trained volunteers.
As well as improving your health and fitness, regular walks can help your heart and lungs work better, lower your blood pressure and keep your joints, muscles and bones strong. It’s also a great way to improve your mood and meet new people.
Dr Sian Stokes, of Wallasey Village Medical Centre said: ‘As a surgery we frequently inform patients about these walks. They are fantastic for improving physical activity and addressing social isolation’.
‘The walks are the highlight of my week’
Val from West Kirby is 80 years old and one of the many people who enjoy the health and social benefits of regular health walks. She joined the weekly West Kirby walk in 2011 after losing her husband, who used to be her walking partner.
‘When I first showed up the walk leader was very friendly and welcoming’ explains Val. ‘We went on a one mile walk but other people walked for two miles.
‘I go every week, regardless of the weather. I have lived in the area for years but these walks take me to new paths and places to visit.
‘I have made so many friends. I look forward to our walks and talks, it really is the highlight of my week. We always have a cuppa and a biscuit at the end – that’s the most important bit of the session! We also meet outside the group and attend other events, like the cinema.
‘The walks keep me fit and independent and keeps us going to live longer. After an operation, the walks helped tremendously with my recovery too.
‘If you are thinking of joining a weekly walk then do it! It will change your life for the better’.
FIND A WALK NEAR YOU
• Birkenhead Park* (Sun & Mon): Meet at Visitor Centre, 11am. 2 - 3 miles in Victorian gardens.
• Arrowe Park (Tue): Meet outside Red Rooms Café, 10.30am. 2.5 miles.
• Wallasey Village (Mon, Wed & Fri): Meet at the library, 11am. 1.5 miles.
• West Kirby (Mon): 3 mile coastal route (Wed & Fri for 1.9 mile route*). Meet 12pm at West Kirby Concourse.
• Bromborough (Mon): Meet 10.30am at the library for walks to Dibbinsdale or Eastham Country Park. 2 - 3 miles.
• Royden Park (Thu): Meet in car park, 2.30pm. 3 mile walk on the common.
• Eastham Country Park (Wed): Meet at Visitor Centre, 1.30pm. 1.5 mile with estuary views.
• Port Sunlight River Park (Tue): Meet in car park, 10.30am. 1 - 2.5 miles.
• Port Sunlight* (Wed): Meet at railway station, 11am. 1.5 mile walk around garden village.
* Suitable for wheelchair or buggies
LATER IN THE YEAR:
• The Warrens: 1st & 3rd Tue each month (Mar 5 - Nov). Meet at the Medical Centre, 11am. 1.5 miles.
• Wallasey: Evening walk every Tue from May 7 until Sept. Meet at Grove Road Station, 7.15pm.
• Port Sunlight River Park: Evening walk every Wed from Apr - Oct, meet 5.30pm in the car park.
To get started, simply turn up ten minutes early to a walk of your choice and introduce yourself to the walk leader. After that, you’re free to take part in as many walks as you like!
For more information, contact Fiona on 0151 929 7823.