‘National Walking Month’ Celebrated by u3a’s Enthusiastic Walkers

Since its inception in 1982, the u3a movement has provided a plethora of activities for its members, with walking standing out as a particularly popular choice. May, designated as ‘National Walking Month’, serves as the perfect backdrop to delve into the diverse and lively u3a walking groups that offer so much enjoyment.

The physical and mental health benefits of walking are well-established. It not only helps in strengthening muscles and bones to combat age-related conditions such as osteoporosis and osteoarthritis but also enhances mental health by boosting mood, confidence, and energy.

The u3a principle of ‘Learn, Laugh, Live’ is vividly manifested in the experiences of the walking group members, who gain significantly from the camaraderie and discussions during their walks. Members have shared their experiences as follows:

Terry Dykes from Holmes Chapel & District u3a stated, “I joined u3a because of the wide range of activities available and to learn new skills in retirement. I have always walked as a Scout Leader when younger and in later life in the Peak District. I would list the benefits of being part of my u3a walking groups as, friendship, social contact, fitness and improved mental health. I walk 15-20 miles per week and my favourite places to walk are the Peak District National Park and the Cheshire Plain. If I had one word that describes my experience as being a u3a member, it would be INVIGORATING!”

Pauline Lenney of Lancaster and Morecambe u3a remarked, “When I retired, I suddenly found that I had the time to run, walk, cycle and go to the gym. There were no excuses for making unhealthy lifestyle choices, or for being unfit. I embraced the concept of ‘positive ageing’ – maintaining an optimistic attitude, feeling good about myself, keeping fit and healthy, and engaging fully in everything. I trained to become a Nordic Walking Instructor. When the days are cold, the skies are dark, the ground is muddy, the wind is howling through the trees and you simply want to close the curtains and turn up the heating …You put on your boots, find your gloves and pack your waterproofs. Because you know, that despite the weather, if you go on that Nordic walk, you will always feel better!”

Jacky Carter of Southport u3a developed an innovative ‘Walking Exchange’ program, enhancing the walking experience by enabling members to visit and explore new locales across the UK, guided by fellow u3a members.

In a recent highlight, a group from Southport (and Marple) u3as ventured to Inverness and the Black Isles in late April for the inaugural u3a Walking Exchange.

Francine from Southport u3a shared, ‘Our u3a motto, LEARN, LAUGH, LIVE has been perfectly illustrated during our recent walking exchange. We LEARNT a lot about our Inverness hosts’ lovely area when they took us on their special walks; we LAUGHED with them; and we now LIVE a richer life, enhanced by the experience. This is our fourth successful walking exchange, and we can’t wait to experience some more!”

For more information on your local u3a or to join, please visit u3a.org.uk/join.

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