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People over 50 are invited to get walking in Rhondda Cynon Taf

Written by on 25th February 2021

Living Streets Cymru is helping people aged over 50 in Rhondda Cynon Taf stay healthy and connected with its new walking programme.

The walking charity is inviting people to register for Walking Friends Wales, which helps over 50s start walking in their communities, make new connections and voice the need for improvements to their local walking environment.

Over the past year, many older adults have been unable to leave the house during the coronavirus pandemic. Physical inactivity can increase social isolation, reduce independence and diminish physical and mental health, and is something that affects older adults more than other age groups.

Walking Friends Wales aims to help people over the age of 50 build-up confidence and strength to start walking and gradually get more active.

Older People’s Commissioner for Wales Heléna Herklots CBE endorses the programme and is encouraging people to register an interest.

Heléna Herklots CBE, Older People’s Commissioner for Wales said:

“Keeping active is not only important for our day-to-day health and well-being, but also plays a key role in helping us to age well.

“But during the pandemic, this has been difficult – if not impossible – for many older people. So I’m really pleased that the Walking Friends Wales Project will be encouraging and supporting older people to start walking in their communities.

“I particularly welcome that in addition to helping older people to be more active and make new connections, the project will also support them to report issues and suggest improvements to their walking environments.

“This will be important – alongside the wider action I called for in my Leave No-one Behind report – to help to identify and remove potential barriers that may prevent older people from getting out and about and reconnecting with their communities.”

Living Streets’ research shows that nearly one in three (31%) over 65s are prevented from walking on their local streets because of cracked pavements. Nearly two thirds of over 65s (60%) are worried about poor pavements and half of older adults (48%) would walk more if pavements were well-maintained.

Ilona Carati, Walking Friends Wales Project Coordinator for Living Streets Cymru, said:

“Walking provides so many physical and mental health benefits, but things like poorly designed streets, pavement parking and street clutter can make it difficult for some of us to get out and about. Walking Friends Wales can help older adults enjoy exercise inside or outdoors and feel more connected to their local community.”

When people register for the programme, they will be introduced to a Walking Friend who will take them through an 8-week programme of self-guided activities which can be done indoors and outdoors. The Walking Friend can also help to identify and report any changes that are needed in local areas, such as a new pedestrian crossing or improved footpaths, to help participants get around more safely.

Visit https://www.livingstreets.org.uk/walkingfriendswales for more information on how to refer yourself, a friend, relative or client – or contact Ilona Carati, Walking Friends Wales Project Coordinator for Living Streets Cymru.

Email: walkingfriendswales@livingstreets.org.uk Phone: 07566 777410.

Walking Friends Wales is funded by the Healthy & Active Fund, a partnership between Welsh Government, Sport Wales and Public Health Wales.