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Families across Argyll are being encouraged to get moving this Christmas by pledging to walk once a day.
Scotland’s walking charity Paths for All has highlighted the importance of a daily walk to keep up physical and mental wellbeing during the winter months.
The plea comes as the charity launches its Walk Once a Day campaign as well as a new online hub giving lots of ideas, activities and information designed to motivate everyone to get outdoors with nature spotting tips, podcast recommendations, location advice, community and festive walks and creative walking.
The winter initiative will also offer incentives to those who take up the challenge to walk once a day through December and January.
Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said: ‘Regular walking is a powerful tonic. It helps to boost our immune system and those of us able to should strive to get the benefit this winter.
‘A 30-minute daily walk is one of the best ways to look after yourself and it’s something we can do from our own front door.
‘During periods of physical distancing, isolation and uncertainty, many have expressed increased feelings of anxiety, stress or worry. Daily outdoor exercise, while adhering to guidelines, is an important way to improve physical and mental wellbeing.
‘We would encourage those who are able to get outdoors this winter to do so, even if it is for a short walk to the shop or to school.’
Research shows that half a million older people regularly experience periods of isolation, going at least five or six days a week without seeing or speaking to anyone at all.
Getting out for a daily walk allows interaction with neighbours, others in the community and can create a sense of connection and community belonging, even while social distancing.
Dr William Bird, founder of Intelligent Health and the Beat the Street game said: ‘When I talk to patients on a day-to-day basis, most of them ask for advice on how to avoid getting Covid-19 or how they can improve their chances of fighting it if they do catch it.
‘Walking is always one of the best things that people can do for their health, however during these times of Covid-19, it’s more vital than ever. When you go for a brisk walk, this stimulates the creation of natural killer cells which are part of the immune system. They sit at the nasal cavity and are ready to mop up any virus including Covid-19 and kill it before it has a chance to replicate and get into the cells.
‘Not only that, but walking in green space and nature has a positive impact on the brain also reduces stress and its negative impact on the immune system.’
UK-wide research by King’s College London during lockdown revealed 49 per cent of people in the UK have felt more anxious or depressed than normal, with walking shown to be an effective method to prevent and manage mental health conditions. Surveys have shown that Scots have increased their walking during this unprecedented time more than any other part of the UK.
For more information on Paths for All and the Walk Once a Day this Winter campaign, search pathsforall.org.uk/walkonceaday