Yesterday saw the final session of our 20 minute walking group, based at Shenley Green Surgery. As previously mentioned, the idea for this group was to provide some gentle group exercise for those who, for a range of reasons, can’t manage to join a regular walking group.
After a two week delay due to the bad weather, our intrepid group took a stroll up to Ley Hill Park in the sunshine yesterday.
Overall, the assisted gentle exercise programme has been a great success. The participants have found benefits not only physically but also socially. All the walkers have spoken of a boost in confidence and happiness levels. The two minute video below shows the group describing what they’ve got out of the six week course – and admiring the views.
Keiran drew lessons from the previous walking group he’s organised to develop and promote this programme – and to get as many people as possible to complete it. “I promoted this as a course with a completion date, to give the walkers an aim and encourage them to attend all the sessions,” he explains. “This was reinforced with mid-way incentives – we gave the attendees pedometers and, at the end, each participant received a small prize for completing the course.”
Although he had planned many aspects of the programme, Keiran still had to adapt his approach slightly as they went along. “In the first session, I found it harder than I’d anticipated to cater for slower and faster walkers – even after only 20 minutes, it’s surprising how much a walking group can separate,” he said.
“So we arranged for two Gateway volunteers to get involved in the planning of the next five sessions and to help co-lead the walks. This meant we could focus on individual needs more, allowing walkers to increase their capacity and make the most of their time.” Of course, it also allows the volunteers to gain some valuable experience in event planning and leadership.
Each of the sessions kicked off with a short health awareness talk before the walking began. Various things were covered, like diet advice and safe ways of exercising.
The future of the assisted gentle exercise programme is bright. Most walkers have said they’d like the group to continue and some have already arranged to meet next week. Keiran’s arranging some further volunteer support for them, so that – ideally – this group can continue to meet up fortnightly from the surgery. In the meantime, he’s working on starting up the next walking group, with new participants to start in six weeks time.
“Overall, I’m very happy with our success,” Keiran says. “I’m really looking forward to the next one!”