Questions and answers
What are 'Health Walks'?
Health Walks are short, brisk walks undertaken regularly with the purpose of benefiting health and wellbeing.
What makes them different from a 'normal' walk?
Our Health Walks are all planned in advance. We organise all the details including meeting places and routes so that all you need to do is just turn up. We also make sure that each walk has been checked and is led by at least one fully trained, insured, volunteer walk leader. This means that you can concentrate on walking and talking and not worry about getting lost!
We grade our walks on a 1 - 4 scale in terms of the estimated time it will take and whether or not there are hills or stiles. We do this so that you know what to expect before you turn up and if you want, you can work your way through the different levels as your fitness improves. We also have 'First Steps' walks which are our easiest walks and suitable for people looking for gentle exercise, perhaps after a break from taking exercise or recovering from illness.
Why do we ask new walkers to register to walk?
We ask people to register with us before their first walk for a number of reasons:
- it is mandatory for us to have a record of answers to five particular health questions for insurance purposes. We also ask for a full name, first line of address and postcode in order to identify each of the health records we hold; we have a lot of walkers all over Hertfordshire!
- we update our walks three times a year and would like to send you information via email about all the health walks opportunities available in your area, should you wish to receive it
- we monitor and evaluate health walk participation and marketing in order to be as effective as possible, demonstrate the impact of funding to our sponsors and support national health walking reports for the Department of Health. Monitoring and evaluating the walks allows us to improve health walk opportunities and, therefore, maximise the benefits for communities not only across Hertfordshire but also nationwide
What happens to the information on registration forms?
All the information on the registration form is held, handled and processed by the CMS and its volunteers in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and sent to our office to be stored on our database. It may be necessary to share your mandatory details only with our local authority partners only for the purposes of evaluation and providing insurance cover.
What is the recommended amount of physical activity each week?
The government's Chief Medical Officer suggests that to stay fit and healthy each of us should be aiming for 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week.
What counts as 'moderate intensity' physical activity?
Brisk walking, cycling, swimming and even regular gardening could count. An indication of moderate intensity exercise is feeling warmer and breathing slightly harder (you should still be able to hold a conversation - which is good news for our chatty health walkers!).
Is there any evidence to suggest that walking is good for you?
Yes - lots! Walking for Health, the national health walking initiative has conducted several studies in order to evaluate the benefits of walking. They also highlight and promote the findings of various other bodies and research groups. For further reading try visiting their website.
Do I need to bring anything with me or wear anything special to walk?
We recommend that you wear whatever is comfortable - you don't need walking boots or expensive gear. All you need to bring is your ready to walk form (for your first walk only if you haven't already completed it online here first), money for a cup of tea after the walk and we recommend a bottle of water.
Can I bring my dog with me?
We understand that dogs need health walks as much as humans do so we're happy to have them along. We do request that you check with the walk leader and other walkers first. Please keep your dog on a short lead so he or she doesn't get under other walkers' feet and get tangled up in a group of people!
Will I be left behind if I walk too slowly?
No. The walks are designed to cater for all ages and abilities. We advise you to walk at a pace that suits you (ideally 'brisk') and that means everyone will be walking at a slightly different pace. We aim to have at least two volunteers on every walk - one leading the walk, the other walking at the back. The back marker will always stay with the last walker, regardless of how far ahead the rest of the group is so that no-one ever gets left behind. As well as recommending people walk at their own pace, we also grade our walks so that you can choose a level which you think is most appropriate for you. We recommend that you start with a lower level walk in order to gain confidence and build up your fitness.
What if I can't make it round/want to leave early?
If you want to leave a walk early please let the leaders know at the beginning of the walk and again when you depart. If you are unsure whether or not you can make it round the route we suggest trying a lower level of walk first and building up your confidence and fitness gradually.
Can I just turn up?
Yes. Before your first walk we ask you to fill in a ready to walk registration form either online here or by arriving ten minutes early for your first walk. There is no need to book - just turn up as often as you like.
Are the walks suitable for those in wheelchairs and with buggies?
Some walks are and they are marked in the programme with a symbol. If you are interested in developing more wheelchair and buggy friendly walks please get in touch with us - we are always looking to make the walks as accessible as possible.