A year of walking

2015 is Herts Year of Walking

2015 is Herts Year of Walking - Credit: Archant

With 2015 designated Hertfordshire Year of Walking by Herts County Council, Countryside Managemnent Service project officer Rukia Augustine explains why we should all put one foot in front of the other this month

How often do you say ‘I’m going for a walk’? With numerous studies finding walking is a key way for us to get healthier and happier, Herts County Council has declared 2015 a Year of Walking – with events geared to getting residents out in our lovely county.

Walking is an enjoyable, achievable and free way of achieving the UK Chief Medical Officer’s recommendation of 150 minutes’ moderate-intensity exercise per week. Walking is one of the best forms of exercise for people of any age and ability as it has minimal impact on joints and offers many options for progression – for instance, starting slowly on flat, even ground over short distances and gradually building up the speed, incline and distance of walks. Walking also works the cardiovascular system without putting it under undue stress; it can help with weight control; it releases endorphins into the bloodstream thereby enhancing feelings of wellbeing; and it is free.

Hertfordshire is a great place to explore on foot as it has 3,200 kilometres of Rights of Way, 42 open spaces with Green Flag status and miles upon miles of accessible former railway routes, river banks and canal towpaths just waiting to be discovered.

This month, the Hertfordshire Year of Walking really gets going with more than 200 guided walks to choose from across the county as well as loads of walking route maps that be can downloaded and followed at leisure.

The official launch of the scheme will take place on Sunday May 24 at the Hertfordshire County Show at the County Showground in Redbourn, so why not enjoy a great day out and find out more at the Hertfordshire marquee?

The Year of Walking aims to get more people in the county walking as a means of exercise, leisure and to make short journeys more active. Whether walking appeals as a means of losing weight, improving health or simply enjoying some fresh air, the Hertfordshire Year of Walking can provide the motivation to get you moving.

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Countryside on your doorstep

The Countryside Management Service and Hertsmere Borough Council have introduced a series of walking routes aimed at inspiring people to explore the open spaces in the area. Starting from the green spaces around Borehamwood and Elstree, the routes venture out into the rolling countryside beyond.

Three leaflets offer a choice of walks from a short loop around Composers Park, Parkfields or Aberford Park to a four-mile route taking in the green spaces along Tykes Water Brook and into the countryside south of Shenley.

You can download the Countryside on Your Doorstep series of walks from the CMS website hertslink.org/cms or pick them up at Herts libraries and council offices.

Beat the streets

Next month, watch out for Beat the Streets, a free community initiative designed to inspire children and adults to walk more and increase their physical activity levels. Four community areas are taking part in the project: Watford, Hemel Hempstead, Broxbourne and Stevenage.

From June 3 to July 15, participants will be able play a walking game. Individuals will be given a radio frequency identification card (like an Oyster card) which they tap against boxes placed on lamp posts around the towns. Tapping more than one box records a journey. Teams from schools, workplaces and local communities will compete to tot up journey points in the game and, of course, points mean prizes!

How to get involved

For more information, visit the Year of Walking website hertsdirect.org/walking

‘Pledge to Walk’ on the site and receive:

A monthly newsletter highlighting up coming walking opportunities in Herts.

A six-week plan to help increase walking levels.

A follow up survey to check your progress

Links to walking groups and opportunities to join free guided walks.

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