I walk into town a couple of times a day. I’ll walk by the shops for my milk or and the paper, then around the millennium park. People recognise me and we’ll talk a bit of this a bit of that. Walking is a marvellous thing. I’d much rather walk than drive.”
We have been running a series of community street audits, led walks and volunteering activities over the last two years to create better streets for older people to walk, promote healthier lifestyles and ensure older people are well connected with their communities.
Community Street Audits
Community Street Audits are giving older people the opportunity to have their say on how their local streets are designed, managed and maintained.
In each community, audits have identified a range of barriers which prevent older people from walking to access local services:
The project has helped us run national campaigns to make walking safer and easier, particularly for vulnerable people, which includes calls for safer crossings, an end to pavement parking and ice-free pavements in winter.
Since April 2013 over 700 older people have taken part in project activities with 54% of participants reporting an increase in walking since taking part in the project.
Furthermore as a result of increased walking:
80% feel less stressed or anxious
76% feel fitter or healthier
70% feel less lonely or isolated
68% feel more connected with their community
Walking is the most accessible form of getting around. It’s gentle and straightforward, meaning those with different levels of ability can all take part in walking in some way. Walking regularly can improve balance, strengthen muscles and reduce the risk of falls
In order to make the most of the health benefits of walking try to walk at a speed at which your breathing rate and heartbeat increase but you can still carry on a conversation. The more activity you do the younger you will become.
If you own a mobility scooter your activity levels will fall so you will need to replace this lost activity with walking or chair based activity. If you have an injury, disability or health condition, take advice from your GP to see how walking can help you. Remember, any physical activity is better than none
Over a week, activity should add up to at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate exercise – in sessions of at least ten minutes and should include strength exercises at least twice a week such as carrying your shopping bags back from the shops.
Once a week we go to West Kirby Promenade and I much prefer it; the scene is always changing, the tides and the sky. It’s easier to walk there too. The promenade is wide and flat, there are plenty of benches to sit on if we get tired and friendly people to talk to. Walking in all that fresh air makes me feel pleasantly tired and healthier for it too”