City’s Health Walks scheme wins national accreditation

Press Release: 27/01/2009

Residents enjoy a recent Health Walk up St Giles Hill

A Health Walks scheme run by Winchester City Council has been awarded accreditation by Walking the Way to Health, a joint initiative between Natural England and the British Heart Foundation.

As an accredited scheme, Winchester Health Walks meets nationally accepted standards in areas such as safety, insurance, and information monitoring. The accreditation also means that the scheme can now be formally recognised by health professionals and prospective partners.

Lydia Lockhart, Winchester City Council’s Active Lifestyles Officer and Health Walks Co-ordinator, said:

"Winchester Health Walks is a relatively new scheme; our first walk was at the beginning of November 2008, so this is a great start and will mean our walkers can be safe in the knowledge that their local scheme has met national standards".

Walking the Way to Health is the largest national body promoting and setting the standard for led health walks. It aims to get more people walking in their own communities, especially those who take little exercise or live in areas of poor health. The initiative has helped to create 525 local health walk schemes across England and has trained over 33,000 volunteer walk leaders.

Winchester Health Walks are free and provide an easy way of getting regular exercise. There is compelling evidence that regular walking can help reduce risks of coronary heart disease, strokes, hypertension, type two diabetes, colonic cancer and osteoporosis. Physical activity is also effective in the treatment of depression and can also help people who are suffering from anxiety and stress.

Cllr Patricia Stallard, Portfolio Holder for Heritage, Culture & Sport, and the City Council’s representative on the Health and Wellbeing Strategic Outcomes Group, said:

"We are keen to see more and more people taking regular exercise. This accreditation is a real boost, and will help the City Council to promote active lifestyles throughout Winchester. Health walks offer a great way to stay healthy, meet new people and enjoy Winchester’s beautiful surroundings. All our residents are welcome to come along and, at a time when everyone is watching what they spend, this health scheme offers a bonus of being completely free."

The Winchester Health Walks group meets every Monday outside Winchester Tourist Information Office at 10.30am. Walks last approximately one hour and can be enjoyed by people of all fitness levels. The scheme welcomes new walkers anytime throughout the year. If you would like more information or would like to become a volunteer walk leader, please contact Lydia Lockhart on 01962 848 725 or