Getting fit for summer in Sunderland

Coun John Kelly joins the Wellness Walking volunteers and walkers at Washington Arts Centre.
Coun John Kelly joins the Wellness Walking volunteers and walkers at Washington Arts Centre.
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SUNDERLAND’S summer wellness walking programme is hitting its stride.

Now in its third year, the programme sees weekly-led “health walks” on routes across the city.

Many regular walkers have been taking part since the programme was launched in September 2010, and some have gone on to become voluntary walk leaders.

Councillor John Kelly, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for wellness and culture, said: “It’s great to see the fantastic impact that the Wellness Walking programme is having.

“Walking really is the easiest way for people to get and stay active, and this programme is offering them a fun and friendly way to get started.

“Many walkers don’t even realise they have been walking for an hour and covered such a distance as they are so busy talking and enjoying themselves.

“And, of course, they couldn’t do that without the input of the wonderful volunteers that make this scheme the success that it is.”

Walks are free, and suitable for all ages, fitness levels and abilities. They typically take around an hour.

At the moment, there are three weekly walks: Mondays at 10am from the play park car park at Herrington Country Park; Wednesdays at noon from the Walrus in Mowbray Park, and Fridays at 10am from the main reception area car park at the Arts Centre Washington. A fourth walk will be starting at 10am each Tuesday from the Café area at Barnes Park as of next week.

Jen Green, scheme development officer for Walking for Health, said: “The Wellness Walking programme is all about helping people to get active in their local community.

“We recognise them as a Walking for Health accredited scheme because of the fantastic job they’re doing, and we know that lots more people will be benefiting from their great work in the future.”

No booking is required, but the programme is subject to change, and walkers should call ahead to check they are taking place.

This year’s Big Walk will be on Sunday, September 8. It will be open to all ages and abilities, and will focus on showcasing some of Sunderland’s beautiful local scenery and walk routes.

For more information on walking opportunities, or becoming a volunteer walk leader, call 561 4693, or visit the websites www.activesunderland.org.uk or www.sunderland.gov.uk/leisure.