Keep your steps going with Heart Foundation Walking
Many Heart Foundation Walking groups across the country have resumed – and this could be great news for people keen to continue a newfound love of walking post-lockdown.
In a recent Heart Foundation survey of 300 people, around 30 per cent said they had been walking more since COVID-19 restrictions came into effect. Of those, 45 per cent took walks by themselves, 33 per cent with their partner and 22 per cent with their pets.
“When gyms and organised sport shut down due to the pandemic, walking became one of the few options for Australians to stay active,” said Heart Foundation Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton.
“Large numbers of us discovered or even rediscovered the joys of walking around the neighbourhood with their family and pets,” he said.
“This time reminded Aussies that walking is free and easy, and almost anyone can do it. You can walk almost any time and anywhere. It’s a really simple and pleasant way to get your recommended 30 minutes of brisk physical activity each day.”
Professor Shilton encouraged these Australians to continue walking as restrictions begin to ease and to consider joining a Heart Foundation Walking group.
“We paused our walking groups during the pandemic to protect our walkers, volunteers and the community from virus transmission, but many will be able to resume from today. So now is a great time to join us and keep up the walking habits you developed during lockdown,” he said.
“There are more than 1200 Heart Foundation Walking groups across the country, including many that are pram-friendly and dog-friendly.
“Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, can deliver real health benefits. It not only reduces your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions, but you are likely to feel more energetic, have stronger bones and muscles, and feel happier.
“If you decide to walk in a Heart Foundation Walking group, you can also gain great social benefits. Our walkers often tell us they start for the exercise but stay for the company.”
To locate a group in your area, visit the Heart Foundation Walking web site, click the “Find a Group Near You” button, and enter your postcode. This will show you all nearby groups, along with information such as when and where a group meets. You will also find contact details for each group’s Walk Organiser, who can give you more details and help you sign up.
Not every Heart Foundation Walking group will necessarily resume from today, Professor Shilton noted. “It depends on factors such the size of a group, and whether the Walk Organiser and group members feel comfortable about resuming,” he said.
“However, we are confident that most groups will be itching to restart as soon as they can. To find out for sure, contact the group’s Walk Organiser for more information.”
Anyone participating in the Heart Foundation Walking program will be required to:
- Continue social distancing on organised walks (keeping a 1.5-metre distance from others);
- Stay home if unwell (for example, if they have a fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat);
- Seek testing for any COVID-19 symptoms and report a positive test result to the Heart Foundation Walking team as soon as possible; and
- Practise good hand hygiene, and cover coughs and sneezes.
The Heart Foundation also encourages walkers to download the COVIDSAFE app and use it at all times; get a flu shot; bring their own hand sanitiser; and talk to their doctor about whether joining or re-joining a walking group is advisable for them at this stage. This particularly applies to people considered more vulnerable to the virus, such as older Australians and those with chronic health conditions.
In terms of heart disease risk factors locally:
- 19.5 per cent of residents in the Coffs Harbour-Grafton region smoke;
• 18 per cent have high blood pressure;
• 70.5 per cent are not physically active enough for good health;
• Approximately 36 per cent are obese; and
• 32 per cent have high cholesterol.
Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and SportAUS.