Active 2014

Yvonne's walking to health with a spring in her step

TAKING the smallest steps can be life changing.

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Yvonne says walking has changed her life for the better
Yvonne says walking has changed her life for the better

Yvonne Duffy should know - she started working to improve her health last year and the changes have been incredible.

High blood pressure meant she spent times in hospital and was forced to give up her job as an insurance underwriter.

But the 53-year-old, from Scotstoun, joined a Health Walking Group, organised by Glasgow Life, and has seen a vast improvement in her life.

"Walking has turned my life completely around and I feel like the person I was years and years ago," she says.

"It has made me more mobile and given me my health back: I'm not tired, my blood pressure is down, my weight is down and it gets me out talking to people, so the mental health benefits are really good too.

"The walks are not about who you are or what size you are, people are not judged.

"We're all there for the same thing, for our health."

She now fits in three or four one-hour walks a week, with bigger walks of a couple of hours or more on alternate weekends.

The Paths For All programme has given her the opportunity to be a walk leader and do a first aid course.

"I feel I have got my life back," she says. "I have more stamina, I don't get tired and have more resilience.

"I have a healthier, happier attitude and that has been important as well because I did not have that before."

With better weather there is no better time to get out in the fresh air.

Thousands of people will do just that when the Bupa Great Women's 10K returns to Glasgow on Sunday. The event always creates a great atmosphere as women of all ages and abilities pull on their trainers and walk, jog or run the course in the South Side.

The annual event is for women, but we are setting a 10K May challenge for Evening Times readers of all fitness levels.

Complete the 10K distance - the equivalent of 6.2 miles - during this month.

See how easy it is, and also how good you feel. Get involved with Glasgow Life walking groups, who will help you cover 10K in May in a simple and enjoyable way.

You can kick-start a healthy lifestyle while enjoying the great outdoors and meeting new people.

Glasgow Life has walks to suit everyone, from those who are just getting started to more established walkers. These include one-hour local Glasgow Health Walks, which are free, and scenic Country Park Walks, which cost £5 for a half-day, four-mile ramble.

Bellahouston Health Walk Group is thriving, with almost 40 members regularly enjoying strolls around the park and surrounding areas.

Several of them have signed up to walk the Women's 10K and will be joined by Yvonne.

There are a number of Glasgow Life walking options to choose from.

Garden Walks are ideal for beginners and provide a great opportunity to enjoy beautiful scenery while improving your fitness. These are 2-3 miles maximum with plenty of stops.

Easy Walks groups focus on low level and flat paths or back roads with some minor inclines.

Half-day walks are 5-6 miles and full-day walks are 6-9 miles.

These walks are suitable for those who have experience or want to start walking on easier terrain.

The next level up is Easy+ Walks, where you can expect to find a few steeper sections but mainly on good established paths. Routes are 6-11 miles.

Expect steep inclines, hills, mixed terrain or wilder countryside at the next level of Moderate Walks.

Full-day walks are 5-14 miles and half-day walks are a maximum of six miles and must be booked in advance. These walks give you a taster of steeper exhilarating climbs with shorter achievable distances or longer mileage without major inclines.

Hill walks are at the top level, and are full-day trips. Expect walks on and off paths, over steep ground, peaks and exposed areas. All hill walks are 5-10 miles and are graded in terms of difficulty and only suitable for those with a very good level of fitness and previous hill walk experience.

For details see www.glasgowlife. org.uk/walking. or call the Active 2014 helpdesk for support in taking part in 10K May.

Health

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Tips to help you keep active from the Glasgow Club

  • Be realistic about what you want to achieve
  • Build up the intensity and frequency of your activity sessions gradually
  • Find an activity which you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend
  • Use the stairs as often as possible
  • Make active choices as part of your daily routine
  • Get out at Lunchtime! Why not go to the shops or park at lunchtime instead of staying at work? The walk will also make you feel more awake in the afternoon