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THE IDEAL WAY TO GET FIT AND MAKE FRIENDS; IF YOU DO THING WITH 1 YOUR FAMILY THIS WEEKEND ... GO FOR A WALK! Big Fit Walk calls on people across Scotland to join the biggest short walk of the year, writes Susan Welsh.

Byline: Susan Welsh

People across the north of Scotland are being encouraged to get outside and start walking this month as Scotland's walking charity stages the 16th annual Big Fit Walk.

Organised by Paths for All, the campaign will see areas from Aberdeen to Caithness become more active over the month of June as people of all ages and abilities are being asked to organise a 30-minute walk.

Anyone can organise a Big Fit Walk and this year's theme - "Bring a friend then make a few more" - is intended to inspire people to become part of the walking community and join one of the 550 Health Walks that run all year round after the Big Fit Walk.

Ian Findlay, chief officer at Paths for All, said: "The Big Fit Walk is all about bringing the people in the north of Scotland together to enjoy a walk in a fun and relaxed way.

"This year, we'd like the Big Fit Walk to be a way for everyone to sample how simple and enjoyable walking in a friendly group is and encourage everyone to walk regularly, for example by joining one of our weekly Health Walks.

"Walking is free, most people can do it and you don't need any special equipment. Regular walking is still one of the best things you can do for your physical, mental and social health.

"If you love walking, why not introduce a friend to it this June? "Everyone is welcome."

Friends, businesses, schools and community groups who decide to get together to organise a local walk will all be in with the chance of winning PS150 to spend on a project of their choice - whether it's taking volunteers on a day out to say thank you or buying new resources for their organisation.

Organisers just need to complete a form with the details of your walk and Paths for All will add your Big Fit Walk to its online map and enter you into the prize draw.

Last year, walks were held from the Western Isles to the Borders, involving thousands of people walking with their friends, schools, clubs, groups and workplaces.

The Big Fit Walk 2019 was launched by Joe FitzPatrick, minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, in Ayr at the start of the month.

Mr FitzPatrick said: "Walking is one of the easiest and most accessible ways for many people to be active.

"I encourage everyone to get involved this month and thereafter as this simple yet significant change to your lifestyle can completely transform your overall wellbeing."

Paths for All promotes everyday walking for a happier, healthier Scotland.

And the good news is, there's organised walks taking place across the north of Scotland, throughout the year.

In Aberdeen, for example, Pittodrie Health Walks is part of Aberdeen FC Community Trust's (AFCCT) active ageing programme.

The start point for the walks varies, from all over the city centre and occasionally in Aberdeenshire.

Walks are free, sociable and are always followed by a cuppa.

In the Highlands there are 16 Active Cairngorms Health Walks which cover the whole of the Cairngorms National Park, supported by the Park Authority which aims to make it easier and safer for people to move around the park whatever their age, ability or background.

With the help of a network of fantastic volunteers, Walk Moray runs a variety of low-level, friendly health walks, ranging from a 20-minute daytime walk in Elgin to an evening walk in partnership with jogscotland in Hopeman.

? For full details of the 550 weekly Health Walks, visit www.pathsforall.org.uk/healthwalkfinder. If you'd like to organise a Big Fit Walk in your area, visit www.bigfitwalk.scot

" Walking is still one of the best things you can do for your health

CAPTION(S):

WALK OF LIFE: Scottish minister for public health, sport and wellbeing, Joe FitzPatrick, at the Big Fit Walk launch earlier this month

Participants enjoying the Big Fit Walk around Aberdeen
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Press and Journal (Aberdeen,Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jun 20, 2019
Words:659
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