Walking to health

Local residents meet at Wanstead Place Surgery ready for their weekly Walk to Health walkLocal residents meet at Wanstead Place Surgery ready for their weekly Walk to Health walk

Last year a group of patients from Wanstead Place Surgery decided to form a local walking club. One year on the group leader, Paul Turner, explains the health and social benefits that walking can bring.

Walking to Health walks in Wanstead started just over a year ago, initially due to the members of the Wanstead Place Surgery Patient Participation Group. It was agreed that I would undertake the two-day training course – which was run by the Redbridge Sport and Physical Activity Team at Fairlop Waters – in order to carry out this activity. The first day covered the organisational side of a health walks, with practical tests, followed by a certificated first aid course on the second day. Recently I have been joined by Sam Wesil, which will enable the walks in Wanstead to develop. We are both volunteers and enjoy walking and seeing others develop.

Our walks are free, with people joining us to improve their health, reduce the risk of various medical conditions, learn about the local area or just to have a chat with fellow walkers. "The walk encourages and gives the incentive for people to walk and socialise" says Connie, a member of the group.

For slower and less-able walkers, including those who use mobility aids, we operate a short walk around the war memorial in Wanstead High Street and then, depending on ability, around Christchurch Green.

For stronger walkers, we often start by walking around Christchurch Green and continue on for up to one hour. Places we have walked to recently include: beyond Eagle Pond; South Woodford; The Temple in Wanstead Park; and Leytonstone. Some people who join us also belong to other groups, such as U3A, Redbridge Ramblers or West Essex Ramblers. This is always useful as we get to know what is happening in other groups in the area.

Walking is actually in my blood as my mum is in charge of the Havering U3A rambling group, my dad participates in Monday morning walks and my mother-in-law attends the U3A walks around London. I am asked every week how the walk went, how many people attended and if specific people came along.

There are many other walking groups providing an assortment of walks within the Redbridge area. Walking to Health itself also offers other walks of various grades at different locations, including walks in Wanstead Park and Fairlop Waters.

I am supported centrally by the Sport and Physical Activity team who are based at Wanstead Leisure Centre. I send in our weekly registers and details of any new walkers. Apart from keeping records up to date, they also develop new walks, train new walk leaders and advise of new initiatives for walking activities in general.

The Walk to Health group meet every Saturday at 10.30am outside Wanstead Place Surgery, 45 Wanstead Place, Wanstead. All walks are free of charge. Participants are asked to arrive earlier for their first walk. Call Vision/Redbridge Council's Sport and Physical Activity team on 020 8708 0952 for more information on this and other walks in the Redbridge area.

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