Walking for health scheme approved by local doctors, hospitals and the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (WECCG).
For details of Lifewalks dates, times and routes for the rest of the year you can download our Lifewalks diary using the link below:
Why go walking?
Walking is a fun and cheap form of exercise everyone can do. Going for a walk just 3 times a week reduces your risk of
- having a stroke by up to 60%
- developing heart disease by up to 50%
- developing diabetes by up to 50%
- developing arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer's disease by up to 20%
Walking is also the ideal activity if you are recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery or are feeling stressed or depressed.
What kind of walking should you be doing?
Health walks are not 'power' walks. You just need to walk as though you are a bit late for an appointment - fast enough to
get warm, but not sweaty
breathe a little faster, but still able to talk normally
feel as though you have had some exercise, but could still do a bit more
for just 20 to 30 minutes
Walking a little faster than usual and without stopping gets your heart rate up. That is what does you good so, on a Lifewalk, you should only stop for a rest if you need to.
In severe weather conditions please ring 01992 564222 for the latest up to date Lifewalks information
To apply for a Lifewalks Privilege Card please call Community Services on 01992 564226 (Monday to Friday 10am - 4pm) or pay online here.
Ideally, you should exercise five times a week for 30 minutes. That doesn't mean every session has to be a Lifewalk. In fact, most people are only able to come on one or two Lifewalks each week. For your other sessions, you could go out for a health walk just with your partner or a friend. Or you could go for a swim, play badminton, etc. - there are dozens of activities to choose from. Even if you are only going to walk around the shops, just walk a bit faster and you will still do yourself good.
All the walks are around local countryside sites and mostly on firm paths. The distances range from just under 1 mile to just over 3 miles. This may seem quite short but it's how fast you walk that's important, not how far. On days when we do a short route, we usually do a second walk for those who want to do more. The paths are mostly gravel, grass or tarmac so are easy to walk on. There are no stiles or other obstacles to climb over. The routes are all graded for the amount of effort needed. Full details of all the routes and the calendar of walks can be found in the separate Diary of Walks. There is parking at all the meeting places, most of which can be reached by bus.
Absolutely anyone aged 16 and over
However, you will be particularly welcome, and especially well looked after if you
- have high blood pressure
- are diabetic
- have high cholesterol
- have asthma
- need to lose weight
- have coronary heart disease
- have completed a rehab programme at your hospital following a heart attack or heart surgery
- are OK on the flat but find walking up hills or stairs makes you breathless
- are generally feeling stressed or depressed
- are visually impaired and have a guide dog, provided you and your dog can walk a little faster than your usual pace.
To promote our scheme, and encourage people to get healthy, we offer a GP referral scheme. This offers patients five walks a week free of charge, for one month, if they have been referred by a medical practitioner, such as a GP, nurse or dietician. If you would benefit from this service please contact your GP, or for further information email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Karen Murray on 01992 564222 and leave a message.
This is what people already taking part in Lifewalks had to say just 10 weeks after joining:
"I'm feeling much better, have lost weight, and lowered both my blood pressure and resting heart rate" - Mrs V B
"My blood pressure is now the lowest it's been for 2 years" - Mrs C B
"I used to have to stop several times because walking caused severe pains in my legs - now I'm much, much better" - Mr D B
"I've lost 6 Ibs!" - Mr D F
"I'm generally fitter and really enjoy the walks" - Mrs P K O
If you would like to know what going out on a Lifewalk is really like, have a chat to someone already taking part! Just call the scheme co-ordinator, on telephone: 01992 564222 or email: email@example.com and you will be put in touch with an existing Lifewalker.
Many people that join Lifewalks are a little worried about whether they will cope with the distances or trying to walk a bit faster than usual. We therefore recommend that you ask your GP if it is OK for you to join Lifewalks before you come along for the first time.
Whether or not you have seen your GP, we will ask you to fill in a short questionnaire about your general health on your first visit. This will help us decide if it is safe for you to come on the walks. If we are in any doubt, we may not let you join until your GP has given his or her formal consent.
You are also given an emergency contact card that we ask you to keep on you when walking with us as we do not keep your personal details with us on the walks.
We have permanent leaders who go out on every walk. One of them leads from the front, the other walks at the back of the group. We also have a team of equally well-trained volunteer leaders who help out on the walks. They will walk with you on your first 2-3 walks and when you are doing a route for the first time so you won't get lost!
The leaders will help you work out what is the right walking speed for you. They will make sure you walk fast enough to do yourself good but not try to walk too fast
The front and back leaders both carry all the equipment needed to deal with any medical problems.They, and most of the volunteers, have been trained in first aid and, in particular, in dealing with the type of medical problems which many people joining Lifewalks have.
Lifewalks offers short walks on good paths, not day-long hikes, so you don't need any special clothes or shoes. A waterproof jacket is useful as the walks always go ahead even in the rain. Any flat, lace-up shoes are fine - just avoid heels or slip-ons.
The Diary of Walks tells you which routes include grass paths. These can obviously become muddy and wet after rain. For these routes, please wear wellies or something similar if the weather hasn't been too good recently.
Not even a whole morning or an afternoon - that's one of the reasons why Lifewalks is so popular!
From the time you leave home to the time you get back is unlikely to be more than 2 hours so, however busy your lifestyle, it is easy to find time for a Lifewalk!
You can join Lifewalks at any time. There are 2 ways to pay:
1. Pay-as-you-walk - Just turn up! The fee is £2.00 per walk (please try to bring the exact money). The leaders will collect your fee from you when you arrive.
2. Buy a Lifewalks Privilege Card - Pay a one-off fee of just £30.00 and you can come on every walk for the next 6 months. That works out to just under 25p per walk. Even if you can only come along once a week, that still works out to less than £1.15 per walk. There is an Annual Privilege Card price of £58.00 for 12 months.
To join the Lifewalks Privilege Scheme or to renew, please call Community Services on 01992 564226 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm) or apply online here
If you have a health issue, please look at the 'GP referral' item above for the option of a month of free walks.
To join telephone: 01992 564222 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
LIFEWALKS NEEDS YOUR SUPPORT - VOLUNTEER TODAY!
If you like the idea of short walks in the countryside, but somehow never actually get round to it, then becoming a volunteer on Lifewalks, the Council’s Walking for Health Scheme, could be the solution.
Co-ordinator Karen Murray is looking for lots of different kinds of volunteers to help with the walks that now attract over 100 people a week. We don’t just need people who can walk fast and be a front leader, we also need people to walk at a steadier pace to guide slower walkers around the route and we especially need volunteers for walkers with specific needs such as the visually impaired or those that have Alzheimer’s. We have several people on our waiting list who would love to be able to come to the walks just once a week or even every other week but they need the support of someone, who is willing to give up a couple of hours of their time every couple of weeks and either guide them along on a walk or if possible transport them to and from a walk as well.
All volunteers will be given deafblind awareness training and guiding training as required for their volunteer role (by Deafblind UK) and at a later date they have the chance to attend a recognised first-aid course. You can be any age to help on Lifewalks, several of our current volunteers are in their 60s and over. You only need to come along as often as you want. The advantage of being a volunteer is that it provides a real incentive to walk regularly yourself so you get the same health benefits and fun as the people you are helping.
For more information about Lifewalks or about becoming a volunteer leave your details for Karen on 01992 564222 or e-mail email@example.com
The Lee Valley have brought in charges for parking at two locations: Waltham Abbey Gardens and Gunpowder Park, this affects some of our walks and cycle rides, please see the link for further information https://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/nature/nature-reserve/gunpowder-park/plan-a-visit/