Walking is one of the simplest forms of exercise and probably the easiest to incorporate into your everyday life. You don’t need special equipment, just a comfortable pair of shoes. Walk to the shops or the office or walk the kids to school and you’ll be getting fitter and greener at the same time.

Regular walking at a brisk pace can:

  • Make you feel good.
  • Give you more energy.
  • Reduce stress and help you sleep better.
  • Keep your heart ‘strong’ and reduce blood pressure.
  • Help to manage your weight.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • Reduce the risk of a number of cancers.
  • Reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes.
  • Improve your mood.

Walking can be easily incorporated into daily life, here are some suggestions:

  • Try to walk most days of the week. You can start with a 10 minute walk and gradually increase the time.
  • Walk to the shops, post office or to your workplace and leave the car at home for a change.
  • Get off the bus a few stops early and walk the rest of the way.
  • Take the stairs instead of the lift.
  • Use your lunch break to take a walk.
  • Walk the children to school.
  • Consider joining a walking group.

For the majority of people, 30 minutes of walking is about 3,000 steps. A pedometer or step counter is a great way to motivate yourself to increase your walking. These can be bought very cheaply from most sports shops.

If you want to get out and about in the countryside, check out the eight routes known as ‘waymarked ways’:

  • Carleton Trail
  • Sliabh Beagh Way
  • Ring of Gullion
  • Newry Canal Way
  • Moyle Way
  • Lecale Way
  • Causeway Coast Way
  • Central Sperrins Way

These walks take in some of the most attractive scenery Northern Ireland has to offer, as well as fascinating historical and natural features. The routes are well signposted and leaflets showing the routes and describing features of interest along the way are available from your local tourist information office. You can also order the leaflets from the website www.waymarkedways.com where you will find more information about the routes and details of any special walking events being organised.

Many local councils provide details on walking opportunities and maps of walks within the local area. It is worth contacting your local council’s Countryside and Recreation Officer for further information.

Walking for Health… find the group for you

Walking in a group is a great way to start walking, make new friends and stay motivated. Walking for Health group walks are aimed at people who do little or no physical activity but would like to become more active. 

These groups are led by trained volunteers and are available throughout Northern Ireland. If you are interested in finding out about walking groups in your area or would like to become a trained walk leader then contact:

Wendy McDowell
South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust
Tel: 028 9268 0852 or 9250 1373
[email protected]

Margaret Devlin-Hania
Belfast Health and Social Care Trust
Tel: (028) 95 046580
[email protected]

Lesley Finlay
Western Health and Social Care Trust
Tel: (028) 7186 5127
[email protected]

Sabrina Lynn
Southern Health and Social Care Trust
Tel: (028) 3831 1525

Nicola Arbuckle
Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Tel: (028) 2563 5575
[email protected]northerntrust.hscni.net