PEOPLE in the Huddersfield area are being urged to take their first steps to better health by taking up walking.
With physical inactivity being linked to rising obesity levels and many of the leading causes of disease and disability in society, people are being encouraged to exercise more than ever before.
Walking is one of the easiest ways to get more active, it’s free and is suitable for everyone.
A programme of healthy walks being run by Kirklees Council is proving that walking can make a positive and significant difference to health.
The First Steps to Health programme aims to get people into the walking habit. Each week it offers an average of 30 walks, of varying lengths and for people of all ages and abilities.
All the walks are led by volunteers, many of whom have started as members of a walking group and progressed to becoming walk leaders.
The programme is being run by the Kirklees Walking Network, which was started eight years ago as part of the Government’s Walking the Way to Health scheme.
There are over 300 weekly walkers and 78 walk leaders.
Yvonne Arthur is one member who is walking proof of the benefits of the programme. The 66-year-old joined The First Steps to Health programme five years ago and is now a walk leader.
She leads six regular walks, in Lindley, Paddock, Salendine Nook, Milnsbridge, Golcar and Huddersfield town centre.
She got into walking through Kirklees Physical Activity and Leisure Scheme (Pals), to which she was referred by an NHS physiotherapist who was treating her for chronic backache. The pain was so severe that she had to retire from work.
Having previously done little physical activity Yvonne said that walking regularly has done her “a world of good”. She added that as well as the health benefits she’s made lots of new friends who both walk and socialise together.
People on the council-run referral scheme are the backbone of the walking programme, both of which are co-ordinated by Kirklees Physical Activity Development Team in partnership with the NHS.
But anyone, including children and babies in buggies can take part.
For further details phone the Network on 01484 234095 or visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/activeforlife.
A training day for volunteers who want to become walk leaders is being held at the Stadium Business and Leisure Complex from 10am to 4pm on March 7. The course will qualify people to lead health walks of up to an hour.
For further information or to book a place phone the Network on the above number or email firstname.lastname@example.org