Hike for your heart to feel the love this Valentine’s DayNews /
Joining a Heart Foundation Walking group led to a walk down the aisle for a Tasmanian couple who took their first stroll together six years ago this Valentine’s Day.
Beryl Hodgetts had joined the walking group the month before Max Hodgetts showed up for his first walk.
“We got to walking and talking and a relationship developed from there,” Mrs Hodgetts said.
The couple both joined to keep fit and socialise, and still enjoy the exercise and friendships made through walking in a group.
This Valentine’s Day, Heart Foundation Walking is urging all Australians to rediscover the joys of walking, whether it’s a romantic walk with a partner, a chance to catch up with friends, or a solo stroll to clear your head, relax and reflect.
National Heart Foundation Walking Manager, Michelle Wilson said regular walking is one of the best choices for Australians to reduce their risk of heart disease, but it’s not just your heart that will benefit from walking more.
“Just walking at a moderate pace for half an hour on most days of the week can lower your risk of heart attack and stroke by 35 per cent. It can also lower your risk of colon cancer by 30 per cent, and breast cancer by 20 per cent,” Ms Wilson said.
“Going for a walk does not only do wonders for your health, but lifts your spirits, improves your mood and reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. Walking in a group connects us with others and with our community.”
Regular walking and exercise has also been shown to improve learning and memory skills that can decline as we age, and reduce the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 50 per cent.
“Whether you decide to walk as part of group or on your own, there are benefits to be gained, and they’re only two feet away.”
If looking for company, there are more than 1100 local walking groups right across Australia that can help walkers stay motivated and make new friends.
“Walking in groups helps you to meet and talk to new people, helps you to stay active and strengthens your connections to others, but heading out for a walk by yourself can be just as beneficial, providing valuable “me” time and a great way to escape the demands of daily life.”
Australia’s largest free walking network, Heart Foundation Walking has also proved a great way to meet exercise guidelines.
A study published recently on the Heart Foundation Walking program in the International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity shows that around 70 per cent of Heart Foundation Walkers and 80 per cent of Walk Organisers were meeting the physical activity recommendations compared to only 43 per cent of Australian adults.
The study also found that while improving fitness and health appeared to be the most important motivators for joining the program (more than 75 per cent of walkers), the social aspect was the strongest motivator for continuing (57-73 per cent of participants).
To learn more about Heart Foundation Walking, to join a free, local walking group or to walk solo, visit walking.heartfoundation.org.au or call the Heart Foundation Helpline on 13 11 12.
Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government and the Queensland Government.
For interviews, please contact Heart Foundation communications adviser Bruce Ransley on 0419 710 083, firstname.lastname@example.org or Liselotte Geary on 0411 310 997 or email@example.com