Nicole Bell November 15, 2019 The Power of An Hour. Could a stroll and a blether help you feel better? The Power of An Hour: Could a stroll and a blether help you feel better? With so many different messages about what we can do to improve our physical, mental and social health, it can be a real challenge to decide which is the right one for you. We know that more physical activity is better for us – that it can reduce our risk of experiencing many long-term conditions, and help us to better manage the symptoms of long-term health conditions we do have; that it can help us meet new people and reconnect with our community – but not knowing where to start, or what to expect once we do start, can stop many of us in our tracks before we’ve even begun. At Paths for All, we support over 670 weekly ‘Health Walks’ across Scotland. For many, these walks provide the perfect opportunity to add more activity into the week (without taking too much time out of the week). A Health Walk is a free, regular, safe and sociable walk, lasting under an hour, which is led by a trained local volunteer. 55% of our walkers are living with a long-term condition, which could be anything from cancer to heart disease or Type 2 diabetes. Health Walks provide a supportive environment for everyone, no matter what their ability might be, to come along and enjoy the benefits of being more active. 71% of our walkers join their local Health Walk to feel healthier and 61% join to meet new people. Many of our walkers also tell us, after they’ve been walking for a little while, that not only do they see an improvement in their physical and mental health but – just as crucially – that joining their local walking group has opened up new social opportunities, which lift people’s spirits, and keep them coming back. This doesn’t come as much of a surprise, as many Health Walks end in good old natter over a cuppa – and we agree with our friends at Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland – we should “never underestimate the power of a cup of tea”. A simple stroll, and a blether, have the potential to make us all feel better – and there is a bucketload of evidence to back it up. You don’t have to take my word for it, though, as the experiences of volunteer Walk Leaders and walkers, for example in Glasgow and Falkirk, really do speak for themselves. By using Paths for All’s online map and a simple postcode search, you can find out where your nearest Health Walk leaves from, which local organisation is running it where you are, and who to contact for more information. For most Health Walks, it is as simple as showing up at the meeting point on the day – and all you need to bring with you is yourself! With 85% of the population living within 2km of a Health Walk, you might be surprised just how close to your next step you might be. Nicole Bell is our Guest Author. Nicole is a Development Officer in the Walking for Health team at Paths for All, a national charity who work to create a healthier and happier Scotland through walking and physical activity. Working in partnership with Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland, and other Scottish Health Walk Network Members, we are creating more opportunities to walk for those in Glasgow and beyond. Contact the Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Advice Line nurses (freephone 0808 801 0899, text NURSE to 66777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org) for free, confidential advice and support, or find out more about how Health Defence Scotland can help you get active.