A walking revolution is gaining momentum in the nation’s capital. with Canberrans signing up in droves for a free program that motivates Aussies to get moving.
About 2000 people in the ACT have registered for a Heart Foundation Personal Walking Plan within just a few months of the program’s launch.
The Foundation hopes to recruit more walkers to lift exercise levels in the ACT, where Australian Heart Maps figures show six out of 10 adults are not active enough for good heart health.
Participants in the free, six-week program receive a walking plan tailored to their current activity levels, along with weekly emails and texts to keep them motivated.
Judging by the program’s popularity, the locals love it. As Canberra shivers through another winter, walking enthusiasts aren’t letting the big chill stop them from striding towards a healthier lifestyle, exploring their neighbourhoods and taking photos to share with their growing community.
Calwell resident Ross Skinns was keen to sign up for a Personal Walking Plan and found it helped keep him on track with his walking goals.
“I like a challenge,” Mr Skinns said. “And I liked the Heart Foundation Walking Facebook group, with people sharing their photos and stories.
“It gave me a sense of accountability and achievement, that I had done it and had a record of my walking.”
The retired teacher, who has a family history of heart disease and is on medication for high blood pressure, walks about five times a week and encourages others to give it a go.
“When I walk, I feel better, I sleep better and don’t feel so guilty about taking some time on the couch to watch the footy,” he said. “It’s just about getting started and making time to do it.”
Heart Foundation ACT Support and Care Senior Coordinator, Meg Ryan, says the influx of new walkers is a step in the right direction but more needs to be done.
“We’re thrilled to see so many new faces joining the Heart Foundation Walking family and discovering the benefits of this free medicine for your heart and mind,” Ms Ryan said.
“With six in 10 adults here not doing enough physical activity – a key risk factor for heart disease – we’re keen to keep this momentum going.
“It’s fun, free and easy – so why not give it a try? Walking for an average of just 30 minutes a day can lower the risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes by 30 to 40 per cent.
“Over this six-week journey with us, you will also learn about some of the lesser-known benefits of regular walking, such as unwinding at the end of a stressful day; exploring your neighbourhood; becoming stronger and more flexible; and improving your mood.”
The strong uptake of Personal Walking Plans comes as the Heart Foundation calls on the ACT Government to allocate $400,000 over three years in the August state budget to expanding its walking program.
“Walking has a huge role to play in building a healthier, more active ACT and tackling heart disease – Australia’s single biggest killer,” Ms Ryan said.
“Investing in Heart Foundation Walking is a vital opportunity to get more people active, cut rates of chronic disease and improve the physical and mental health of Canberrans.”
To get started with a free Heart Foundation Personal Walking Plan, visit walking.org.au.
There are also 32 Heart Foundation Walking groups in the ACT, giving people the chance to socialise and catch up with other locals for a walk and chat. To find a walking group in your area, visit https://walking.heartfoundation.org.au or call 13 11 12.
Heart Foundation Walking is supported by the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and SportAUS.