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Author: Kate Towerzey Published: 11th February 2009 11:17

Three figures walking in Epping Forest on a sunny day in winter  

Get Outside and Get Walking

Walking is often described as the perfect exercise as you do not need to learn anything to do it and it is absolutely free!  Nothing like a change of scenery to put the day in perspective. 

Walking has a great many benefits for your health and wellbeing. Walking can:

  • Help increase independence and confidence and also combat loneliness.
  • Help assist weight loss and improve energy and stamina.
  • Burn the same calories as jogging, you just need to walk for longer... so walking briskly for 15 minutes is the same as jogging for 8 and 1/2.
  • Help reduce the risk of osteoporosis and arthritis.
  • Help strengthen the heart, bones and muscles which in turn could help prevent a variety of ailments.
  • Help reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Help reduce the risk of bowel cancer and diabetes.
  • Help reduce the risk of alzheimers disease whilst also combating stress, anxiety and even depression.

Did you know that going for a walk just three times a week can reduce your risk of:

  • Having a stroke by up on 60%
  • Developing heart disease by up to 50%
  • Developing diabetes by up to 50%
  • Developing arthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimers by up to 20%

We are very lucky in the EN9 region to have such a choice of places to walk including the picturesque parkland of Lee Valley Park, the dramatic landscape of Gunpowder Park and beautiful woodland of Epping Forest. 

Pick up a leaflet from a Lee Valley Park location for maps or download a leaflet from the Lee Valley Park website

So what's stopping you...get out and get walking, get some fresh air in your lungs it will improve your mood and your health!

If you would prefer an organised walk with others, please see details below of guided walks, health walks and walking associations:

Lee Valley Park Monthly Guided Walks 

Address: Fishers Green Car Park, Stubbins Lane, Waltham Abbey, EN9 2EF

Time: 10.30am-12.30pm

Enjoy the scenery and wealth of wildlife on their monthly leisurely paced walk in the beautiful River Lee Country Park.  

Starting at Fishers Green Car Park, Stubbins Lane, Waltham Abbey EN9 2EF these walks take place on the first Sunday of every month (March to September).  

This FREE walk is ideal for some gentle exercise, fresh air as well as a social chat with like minded people and afterwards you can visit the Orchard Café, located at Lee Valley Park Farm, which offers a wide range of hot and cold food.

Suitable for all ages.

For more information on guided walks, other events and activities in the Lee Valley Park, please visit the website http://www.leevalleypark.org.uk/ or telephone 08456 770 600

Also check out their extensive list of local walks on their website: http://www.visitleevalley.org.uk/en/content/cms/outdoors/walks-walking/walking-routes/

Epping Forest District Council "Lifewalks"

Lifewalks is a walking for health scheme organised by Epping Forest District Council Community Services and  is part of the national campaign "Walking - the way to health" which is promoted by Nature England and The British Heart Foundation (please see link to the website for this initiative at the end of this page).  Every week they offer a choice of group walks across the Epping Forest District led by specially trained staff.

They charge £1.50 per walk or offer a Lifewalks Privilege Card for just £20.00 one-off fee to come on every walk for the next 6 months.  This equates to just 15p per walk or 80p if you only attend one walk per week.

If you are interested in improving your health, feeling stressed or depressed or recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery their organised walks with specially trained are the ideal choice for you.

For further details or any queries please call Karen Williams at Epping Forest District Council Leisure Services on 01992 564222 or email her at: kwilliams@eppingforestdc.gov.uk or see their website: http://www.walkingforhealth.org.uk/walkfinder/east-england/epping-forest-lifewalks

 The Friends of Epping Forest

The Friends of Epping Forest arrange free guided walks in the forest. 

A varied programme of walks arranged so you can visit various parts of the Forest and learn more about its history, scenery and wildlife with the guidance of the experienced walk leaders.  Please come suitably dressed for walking in the Forest, which can be wet and muddy.  Walks last about 2 hours. 

For more information or for help in getting to the meeting points please contact H & P Bitten on 020 8529 8594 or Robert Levene on 01992 814949.  Programme of walks available on their website: http://www.friendsofeppingforest.org.uk/

Herts Direct Health Walks

Take a step in the right direction with the Health Walks group who hold walks all over the nearby Hertfordshire region.

The Borough of Broxbourne and the Countryside Management Service are organising a new health walks scheme at Cedars Park, Waltham Cross due to launch in the Spring. Health walks are short, regular walks which are a great way of meeting new people, getting outside and feeling all the benefits of walking. It is great for helping reduce the risk of lots of conditions such as diabetes, osteoporosis and bowel cancer as well as being a good way to maintain general wellbeing. It is really easy to get started and the walks are all free.

Health walks are all led by volunteers and for them it is a great way to have fun and get healthy, while helping others to do so too. The coordinators of the Cedars Park Health Walks are now looking for volunteers to step forward and get involved leading the walks.

Anyone can become a leader and it is really easy to get started - all volunteers receive free, certified training. To book your place on the next course or to find out more please contact:

David Gerr, Health Walks Project Officer

Countryside Management Services

01992 588433

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/hertscms

More information please see their website: http://www.hertslink.org/cms/healthwalks/

West Essex Ramblers

Friendly walking group that arranges led walks of varying lengths and locations each week.

West Essex Ramblers are members for Ramblers Association.

For further information please contact John on 020 8502 1628 or see their website for details of their extensive calendar of walks at http://www.westessexramblers.org.uk/

Please see our Places to Go section for further information of where you could go for a walk.

Have you heard of Geocaching a fun treasure hunt walking activity using Sav Nav walks available across the country.

Once you have got the walking bug or to persuade you of the benefits you might be interested in the following national websites dedicated to walking:

Walk London http://www.walklondon.org.uk/

Green Chain http://www.greenchain.com/  

Walking the Way to Health Initiative http://www.whi.org.uk/  

The Ramblers Association http://www.ramblers.org.uk/

If you are interested in exploring outside of Essex, take a look at Herfordshire's new complete on-line map of the county showing walks and cycle routes: Herts Direct Maps

Photograph at the beginning of this article taken by Site Editor Kate Towerzey in Epping Forest.

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