Posted: Wednesday 24th May 2017
Today’s beautiful, sunny weather offers a perfect excuse to get outdoors and take a long stroll in Hertfordshire’s stunning countryside.
Hertfordshire County Council’s countywide initiative of free, led walks can encourage people of all ages and abilities to get outdoors, get more active and reap the benefits.
Volunteer health walk leader Ken Wright, 85, proves that you are never too old to lace up your walking boots and take the lead in getting active.
He worked as a civil engineer across the Welwyn and Hatfield borough until he retired in 1982 and became an enthusiastic walker.
When he saw the health walks advertised he decided to join so he could meet new people and socialise more. “I met quite a few people doing the walks. This was really nice change as I normally walked alone before. It is wonderful being out in the fresh air and having a chat. I also really enjoy having a coffee or tea with other walkers afterwards.”
Ken got involved with the health walks when the Welwyn Hatfield walks programme was established by the Countryside Management Service in partnership with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council and East & North Herts Clinical Commissioning Group. It wasn’t long before Ken was asked to become a walk leader.
He initially was reluctant as he didn’t like the idea of “bossing” people about. But he soon realised that it was more about inspiring and motivating people to get active. “I lead walks every week including the Sherrardspark Wood walk in Welwyn Garden City. The health walks are tailored for all abilities around Hertfordshire’s beautiful countryside all year round. Lots of people first take part in the summer months. Walking is so good for our physical and mental health and you’re never too old to start!”
As part of his training, Ken took part in a free one-day Health Walk Leader training course certified by the national Walking for Health Initiative and basic first aid training, a leader pack and support from a coordinator and fellow volunteers.
A keen photographer, Ken has also led photography walks for people who love to capture scenes of the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside on camera as they exercise.
Walking is one of the simplest and most effective forms of exercise you can do. Anyone can do it and it's very easy to get started.
Hertfordshire County Council’s health walks are free, led and local. Health-focused walks are happening across the county helping everyone get outdoors, get more active and reap the benefits. There are approximately 60 walks each week, with over 50,000 people attending annually and they are led by 300 volunteer walk leaders.
Since 2001, Hertfordshire Health Walks have been co-ordinated by Hertfordshire County Council's Countryside Management Service (CMS) in partnership with many district councils, the county Public Health department and the NHS.
As a walk health leader you:
•Lead a variety of walks on a regular basis as frequently as you wish
•Make walkers feel welcome and safe
•Research and plan routes
•Ensure the necessary simple paperwork is kept up to date
•Turn up rain or shine ready to motivate others
•Enjoy the walks and encourage the walkers to do the same!
To find out more visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/healthwalks or sign up for the Walking in Hertfordshire e-Bulletin for all the latest news.
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