Coasties rediscover the joys of walking

Heart Foundation Walking Groups (HFWG) are officially back in action and the Heart Foundation is now calling on Coasties to consider joining their local walking group to decrease their chance of developing heart disease.

According to the latest Australian Heart Maps data compiled by the Heart Foundation, 68 per cent of Central Coast residents are not physically active enough to maintain good health.

Some 32 per cent of the Coast’s population are considered obese with a further 33 per cent recording high cholesterol.

Add in the fact that 22 per cent have high blood pressure and 20 per cent identify as smokers, heart health in the region is a major concern.

Thankfully, COVID-19 has inspired many adults to take up walking as both a hobby and form of fitness, with the most recent Heart Foundation survey indicating a big spike in the number of participants hitting the pavement during lockdown.

“When gyms and organised sport shut down due to the pandemic, walking became one of the few options for Australians to stay active,” said Heart Foundation Director of Active Living, Adjunct Professor Trevor Shilton.

“Large numbers of us discovered or even rediscovered the joys of walking around the neighbourhood with their family and pets.

“It reminded Aussies that walking is free and easy, and almost anyone can do it,” he said.

With restrictions now easing, the Heart Foundation wants to ensure walkers stick with their new healthy habit and is encouraging people to join their local HFWG.

“We paused our walking groups during the pandemic to protect our walkers, volunteers and the community from virus transmission, but many have resumed.

“So now is a great time to join us and keep up the walking habits you developed during lockdown,” Prof Shilton said.

“There are more than 1200 Heart Foundation Walking groups across the country, including many that are pram-friendly and dog-friendly.

“Regular physical activity, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, can deliver real health benefits.

“It not only reduces your risk of heart disease and other chronic conditions, but you are likely to feel more energetic, have stronger bones and muscles, and feel happier.

It seems walking in a HFWG also has social benefits.

“Our walkers often tell us they start for the exercise but stay for the company,” he added.

The Coast has several registered HFWGs with the former Gosford LGA supported by the East Gosford Pacemakers, Niagara Park Walk and Talk Group, Green Point Walkers, Kincumber Walkers and Get Moving Erina walking groups.

Information about each group, including when and where they meet, the conditions of their walking route and contact information are available on the Heart Foundation Walking website.

Press release, Jun 20
Siobhan McMahon, Heart Foundation