May was National Walking Month in the UK, encouraging everyone to get outside and reap the health benefits, both physical and mental, of a regular ramble. With longer daylight hours, milder weather and a bumper crop of Bank Holidays upon us, it’s the perfect point to start spending more time exploring the great outdoors.
The NHS highlights that, although sometimes overlooked as a form of exercise, walking is one of the easiest ways to get more active and become healthier. It can help build stamina and make your heart healthier, and even a brisk 10-minute daily walk has lots of health benefits.
To celebrate National Walking Month, local walking group Stag Walkers led a number of walks across the Hertfordshire countryside and beyond. In fact, it’s the group’s busiest month yet, with over 10 walks and social activities running throughout May, ranging from leisurely 4.5-mile strolls to a more demanding 17-mile hike.
Stag Walkers is a friendly and sociable Ramblers group aimed primarily at younger people (20s-30s and a bit beyond) and its volunteers have been leading walks in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire since 2007. The group is part of Britain’s largest walking community – across England, Scotland and Wales, the Ramblers has 500 groups inspiring and encouraging everyone to enjoy the benefits of walking.
New data from Sport England’s Active Lives survey indicates a strong upward trend in the number of people walking for leisure, with 2.6m more walkers compared to before the pandemic and 4.6m more compared to six years ago. Stag Walkers has witnessed this trend – Group Chair Al Maceachern says:
“We’ve had increasing numbers of people joining us on our organised walks this year and National Walking Month is the perfect opportunity for even more people to enjoy the many benefits of walking. You don’t need to travel far or scale mountains to enjoy the outdoors; we have fantastic scenery on our doorstep waiting to be discovered.”
If you want to start walking more regularly with likeminded people but are feeling tentative about it, then Stag Walkers organise regular introductory walks aimed specifically at new walkers. These are easy routes of five or six miles, taking between two and a half to three hours and give the chance to try out group walking and learn more about Stag Walkers and the Ramblers. On 14th May the group hosted a 6-mile introductory walk from Welwyn Garden City to Ayot Green and Brocket Park.
New walkers can join three Ramblers walks for free before they are asked to sign up for a membership with the charity, which costs £3.21 per month or £38.50 per year. Not only does this provide access to hundreds of great walks but supports the Ramblers’ work to improve access to the countryside.
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