Nicki chats to Colin Melville about the winter Stride For Life Walks and chats about why somethings as simple as walking can make a big difference.

Sometimes I read research results and I am tempted to regress to that wonderfully sarcastic childhood response of... “You don’t say?”.  Research such as ‘If you’re tired, you should sleep’ and ‘Eating sugar makes you fat’ would both encourage this response.

So, when I read a report in the Guardian weekend supplement recently that talked about how good walking is for a person, my eyes were rolling and my mutterings had already formed in my head.  However, this new study has proven beyond doubt the AMAZING benefits of a good, brisk stroll.  Rather than just offering a low impact alternative to the folks who struggle with ‘real’ exercise (ie people like me who want to throw up after two burpees) it is actually a fantastic way to increase your life span!

Just 25 minutes of brisk walking a day can add up to seven years to your life! And you can pack a lot of fun and happiness into seven years folks. The research was carried out by a team at Saarland University in Germany and presented at the European Society of Cardiology congress – which in itself suggests that its groundbreaking stuff! It concluded that regular exercise could reduce ageing and increase the average lifespan.

This follows a study by Cambridge University earlier in the year that found even modest activity, such as a 20 minute walk, prolongs life and concluded that lack of exercise killed twice as many people as obesity. The Cambridge University study of 334,000 people found that even a modest amount of activity prolonged life. And the least fit had the most to gain.

Sanjay Sharma, professor of inherited cardiac diseases in sports cardiology at St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in south London, said this: “This study is very relevant. It suggests that when people exercise regularly they may be able to retard the process of ageing.  It is an anti-depressant, it improves cognitive function and there is now evidence that it may retard the onset of dementia.”

He said exercise would bring benefits whatever a person’s age or condition and recommended everyone should be doing at least between 20 and 25 minutes of walking a day, involving brisk walking. I’m now very glad I held that sarky wee comment in!

Stride for Life

What does walking have to do with a company who is built around sports halls, gyms and classes you may well ask?  Well, the truth is Live Active Leisure promote all forms of exercise and in keeping with their promise to ‘Be Here When You Need Us’ they have proudly supported the Stride For Life project that offers free guided walk sessions in lots of Perth and Kinross communities.

The project falls under the LAL’s Wellbeing banner and is headed up by Colin Melville. The company work with local volunteers who give up their time to be trained and then commit weekly to leading a walk in their area.  There are walks just for women, walks that offer two or three options, city walks, town walks and ones for the people who like to breathe in the fresh country air!

These Stride for Life walks can be found weekly throughout Perthshire and Kinross and the best bit of all... they are FREE! That's right, no cost at all. You simply turn up at the right time, on the right day to the right place and you can join in the chat.

They are open to EVERYONE. No excuse for age, length of legs or fitness level. Make sure you're comfortable and as well as getting in your 20 minutes of activity, you'll enjoy fresh air, a stroll, a chat and cuppa at the end.

I did wonder if maybe we’d missed the boat this year; would the walks be over for winter? It turns out the answer is definite NO!  These walks run all year long and as Colin told me, there’s no such thing as wrong walking weather, there’s only wrong walking clothing! As you can see from our snowy pic, everyone loves a brisk walk on a crisp winter's day.

Get wrapped up and get out there – you could add seven years to your life and meet some new friends!

Click for a list of Stride For Life classes in your are.