Walking charity Paths for All has launched its ‘step it up’ strategy in a bid to help tackle physical inactivity, poor mental wellbeing, health and transport inequalities and the climate emergency.
The pandemic has caused immense upheaval and uncertainty and the charity believes there is an opportunity to learn from the past 18 months and step things up by rebuilding and recovering in a better way.
The strategy puts walking and physical activity at the heart of the response to tackling some of the biggest issues in Scotland today.
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Kevin Lafferty, chief executive officer at Paths for All, said: “Our new strategy sets out a clear focus for the future for all of Scotland.
“We truly believe walking is unbeatable for our physical, mental, and social health and wellbeing.
“It helps us make friends, feel fitter, improves our concentration, helps us sleep better and boosts our immune system to protect us against viruses.
“It’s mother nature’s top medicine and best of all its free. Walking helps us to relax, unwind and become connected with nature and our surroundings.
“It’s undoubtedly the best buy in public and planetary health today and now is the time to step things up.”
The initiative has been structured around the four key objectives in the WHO Global Action Plan for Physical Activity, which looks to promote walking, whether on foot, with a wheelchair or mobility aid as the natural choice in order to improve health, tackle inequalities and respond to climate change.
Kevin added: “We’ve all been through our own journey over the last two years.
“We’re finding that the pandemic has had a polarizing effect. For many, walking and active travel has been an anchor for our physical and mental health throughout. But unfortunately, there are a large number of Scots becoming increasingly sedentary and facing increasing barriers to an active lifestyle.
“We’ll look to create environments where everyone has the opportunity to be active, whether it’s for leisurely walks, or a short daily journey like getting to the shops, school or work.
“Making these changes will improve the health and wellbeing of the nation, while leaving the car at home more often will cut carbon emissions and do our bit to protect the planet.”
Paths for All continues to work to strengthen leadership, partnerships and policy to make Scotland a walking nation through data-gathering, research and evaluation of walking and behavioral change programmes.
Maree Todd, Minister for Public Health, Women’s Health and Sport, said: “The launch of Path’s for All’s new strategy is welcomed. Walking is an effective and accessible way to improve physical, mental and social wellbeing.
“Everyone in Scotland should have equal access to inclusive environments where they can walk, wheel and be active.
“We have seen a large number of people embracing the outdoors and looking for innovative ways to stay active throughout the pandemic, with walking being one of few constants.
“It is important that communities continue this momentum to help us achieve our aspirations to become a more active, healthier and greener nation as we move to a new way of living.”
For more information on Paths for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk/
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