Walkers step up to help Sunderland residents step out

From left: Jill Meadows, Linda Addison, Sue Reid, Patricia Webster and Marina Connolly are encouraging others to join them on the Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme.
From left: Jill Meadows, Linda Addison, Sue Reid, Patricia Webster and Marina Connolly are encouraging others to join them on the Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme.
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Sunderland woman are urging others to put their best feet forward for healthy living.

A group of women in Sunderland found they enjoyed walking to much, they are have trained as group leaders.

Walking is a great way to get out and about and there’s so much to see in our great city

Marina Connolly

Due to a variety of health conditions, Linda Addison, Marina Connolly, Sue Reid, Patricia Webster and Jill Meadows, all took up walking through Sunderland City Council’s ‘Move to Improve’ prescribed exercise programme.

Now, almost a year later, they have decided to train as volunteer walk leaders so as they can help others discover the health benefits of walking.

Linda said: “I don’t think any of us had done any exercise for a long time and so we were all in the same boat when we met at Washington Leisure Centre for our first session.

“We’ve been going for quite a few months now and physical activity has just become part of everyday life.

“We all really enjoyed the walking part of the programme and when we were asked about whether we’d like to train to lead walks for others, we jumped at the chance.”

The walkers took part in the Nordic Walk Leader training and can now support others.

Marina said: “Getting going when you’re not used to it can be daunting, but we want to help people who may be struggling. Walking is a great way to get out and about and there’s so much to see in our great city.”

Since taking part in the training Jill now leads walking groups each Friday.

She said: “I want to inspire others and encourage them to lead a less sedentary lifestyle.

“By joining a walking group people can get out and about and become more physically active, but it’s not just about moving more. The social side is also very important and having a coffee after the class and talking with like-minded people is just as important to a person’s overall wellbeing.

“On a personal note, being involved in the walking programme has given my self-esteem a boost and it’s so gratifying to see people turn up each week. I must be doing something right if they enjoy it and keep returning.”

Gillian Gibson, Director of Public Health at Sunderland City Council, said: “Just ten minutes of continuous brisk walking can get the heart pumping and can make you feel better, more energetic and improve your mood and in Sunderland we have lots of opportunities for people who want to walk more.

“The Active Sunderland Wellness Walking Programme provides a range of free led walks every week and they’re open to anyone.”

For information about the programme visit www.activesunderland.org.uk.