Please note: these testimonials were submitted in January 2021 in lockdown. Some references are to Health Walks prior to the pandemic, when permitted group sizes were much bigger.
We hope to open Health Walks back up to non-existing walkers when restrictions allow, so watch this space! If you have any enquiries or are interested in becoming a Walking Leader, then please contact the team by email and they'll get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you to all the walkers who have shared their stories - there were so many to choose from and we have published a selection below:
John, 72, Fair Oak
I've been walking for 14 years and enjoyed every minute of it...
When I retired, I wanted to take up an activity which would give me regular exercise and enable me to meet new people. I had never tried organised walks before so joining a group and exploring the open spaces and woods in the area was a real joy as was the companionship of being with other walkers.
As a walk leader now, it’s lovely to introduce new people to our group and friends are quickly made when you are sharing such an enjoyable pursuit. It’s also a way of introducing them to the open spaces and woods nearby and just occasionally we’ll come across a deer feeding in the woods and stand and gaze at each other for a few seconds before it bounds off into the undergrowth.
It helps me to keep fit and I like the regularity of the walks (I do two per week) which creates a good routine for the week. The social aspect of the walks is a really important part of the experience as well and many a damp walk is made enjoyable just by chatting away happily to someone else. Discovering lovely walks which people didn’t know about even within a three mile radius has been a surprise to many people - including me!
Annette, Chandler's Ford
I had been a somewhat sporadic participant in the group walks but found that I missed them during the first lockdown. I was really pleased when they started again on a smaller group basis and immediately booked on to them. I found that having to book gave me a commitment to attend the walk and I joined in the Tuesday and Thursday walks most weeks.
Having a smaller number of walkers was good as it was easier to talk amongst the group than previously when I had found that a lot of walkers kept with their usual walking partners. I got to know the leaders better too and the walks felt more personal.
Having the regular walks gave me a framework to my week which helped me mentally and enabled me to get outside. I keep myself fit with exercise classes in my living room, but I think that the benefit of fresh air and companionship is really important. I was very disappointed when the walks stopped during the November lockdown and relieved when they restarted until we entered Tier 4 and again they ceased.
Now I am joining a volunteer walk leader once a week for a 1-2-1 walk. This is organised privately and not managed by the Council. I really value being able to do this and want to thank the Council for their support of the walks during the year. I believe that the mental as well as physical benefit of walking cannot be underestimated.
The efforts of the HealthWorks team and the walk leaders to enable us to continue to participate in healthwalks has been really appreciated. They have done a brilliant job.
My mother and I have been fortunate enough to participate in some of the small group walks. These have been a godsend as it has given us the motivation to get out and walk and enabled us to meet and chat with our "walking friends", which is a lifeline in these isolating times. My mum lives on her own so is really missing social interaction. The walks have helped address this a little.
The added benefit for me is that I've learned some of the walking routes around the local area. Now we are restricted again I have found this knowledge very useful when doing my daily walk with my husband who is now furloughed.
Margaret, Fair Oak
I joined the Fair Oak Health Walkers once I retired from a busy job. My reasons were to maintain a level of fitness, to meet new people and to meet up with friends who were already members. The walks were always well planned, at a steady pace, and great fun.
The overall benefits I received from these walks were essentially friendships and exercise, shared experiences of walking in beautiful countryside, and delicious fresh air. These walks are all quite local to home, some of which I never knew existed.
Our walk leaders are dedicated to the task of leading an average of 45 people each time, and are always prepared for any mishaps along the way, i.e. falls etc. They always walk the route a couple of days beforehand to assess accessibility and terrain. As most of the walkers are retired and aged between 60 and 80+ this is quite necessary for those that are less mobile.
These walks are enjoyed by everyone and there is always a spirit of camaraderie amongst the group. We usually walk about 3 miles, for an hour or so, and chat so much that one can never exactly remember where we have been at the end of it. I've enjoyed them all immensely.
Myra, 70, Chandler's Ford
I wanted to join the group after I found out, by accident, how local to me it was and because my knowledge of the Chandler's Ford area was limited.
Combining walking with talking, I'm told, is doubly beneficial and I do like to chat! I can tell that my exerted breathing has improved, as I'm less puffed out on the hills. The commitment of not letting people down is a brilliant motivator, and I've made a lovely friend to boot.