‘National Walking Month’ – These Boots Were Made for u3a Walking

Founded in 1982, the u3a movement has become a repository of enriching activities, with walking being among the most favoured. With May being ‘National Walking Month’, it’s an ideal time to explore the vibrant u3a walking groups and discover why they are so enjoyable.

Walking is renowned for its numerous health benefits, including muscle strengthening and bone health, which are crucial in preventing conditions like osteoporosis and osteoarthritis as we age. Moreover, walking boosts mental well-being, enhancing mood, confidence, and energy levels.

The ethos of u3a, ‘Learn, Laugh, Live’, resonates clearly through the positive impacts seen in members of walking groups. Engaging in leisurely walks and conversations with peers brings numerous social and health benefits, as highlighted by some members:

Terry Dykes from Holmes Chapel & District u3a shared, “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 noted, “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!”

A creative project called the ‘Walking Exchange’ was initiated by Jacky Carter of Southport u3a. This programme enhances the traditional local walks by facilitating travels to various UK locations, allowing members to connect with and enjoy group walks guided by fellow u3a enthusiasts.

During a recent event in late April, a group of 10 adventurous members from Southport (and Marple) u3a travelled to the North for the first u3a Walking Exchange in Inverness and the Black Isles.

Francine from Southport u3a expressed, ‘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!”

To discover more about u3a and join a local walking group, visit u3a.org.uk/join.