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Stretch2Step health walks building strength and balance at Grant Park, Forres

By Garry McCartney

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David Brands, Dorothy Longley, Siobhan Ryder, Margaret Greenway and Eileen Campbell on a health walk in Forres.
David Brands, Dorothy Longley, Siobhan Ryder, Margaret Greenway and Eileen Campbell on a health walk in Forres.

A NEW walk is starting for people who want to return to healthy activities after lockdown.

The Stretch2Step programme is running at Grant Park from Tuesday, June 8 for eight weeks, helping participants stay active and independent while improving their strength and balance.

Health Walk Coordinator Claire Buchanan confirmed once the initial sessions have been completed, a further eight weeks of supported self-managed physical activity will take place, offering two short 'Step Out' social walks in Grant Park in weeks 12 and 16.

She said: "Sessions will be welcoming and supportive, always working towards empowering participants to self-manage their own health and fitness. "The programme is a chance to increase confidence, to get back out there and make a positive behavioural change whilst receiving tips, advice and camaraderie along the way."

Stretch2Step focuses on building strength and balance via gentle exercise which people can do anytime. This helps participants get back to regular walking, which provides multiple health benefits.

Claire said: "Many people will have been quite sedentary and lacking in social connection during lockdown periods. However, adults should do physical activity every day and activities that build strength should be done at least two days-a-week. Walking is perfect as just a 10 minute walk can improve physical, mental and social health. The programme promotes all round health and reduces the risk of falls in older adults."

Participants initially sign up to attend eight weeks of outdoor strength and balance, with the option of further phone call support for home activity. All participants will be monitored throughout and connections will be maintained beyond the 16 weeks when more support will be offered if required.

Strength and balance will be encouraged through gentle, simple exercises, mainly focused on legs. The programme uses resources developed by Paths for All, Scotland's walking charity with expert input from Professor Dawn Skelton of Glasgow Caledonian University.

The walks will be based in Grant Park, making use of outdoor structures such as tree trunks, hand-rails and benches to demonstrate and encourage practice of the exercises.

All of the sessions will be risk assessed and follow Covid-19 guidelines. They will be led by Stretch2Step coordinator, Sheila Sellar and trained volunteer leaders who have received strength training from Paths for All.

"Stretch 2 Step is for anyone who has been advised by a health care professional to increase their levels of activity," finished Claire. "It may be for people who: are generally sedentary and would like to get more active; cannot comfortably walk for a period of 20 mins; would like to use gentle physical activity to manage a long term health condition; would like to get back to regular walking but need some social support to do so; would like to gain the confidence to self-manage their own health; or would like to one day comfortably attend one of our general health walks or fulfil their own personal activity goal."

Stretch2Step is a Walk Moray programme. Walk Moray is a member of the Scottish Health Walk Network and is delivered by Health and Social Care Moray. The programme is part funded by Paths for All.

To book a place email claire.buchanan2@nhs.scot or call 07931 228444.

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