Your questions answered
If you're just finding out about Walking for Health for the first time, we expect you've probably got a few questions about the scheme and how it might be able to help you get more active.
We've obviously got all the information you need to know throughout the website but, as a quick starting point, here are the most popular questions we often get asked about Walking for Health.
No formal membership is required, simply find your local Walking for Health scheme and see what walks they have on offer. Walkers can usually just turn up, but it may be best to contact the local scheme coordinator first.
For most people physical activity does not pose a hazard and can be of great benefit for numerous health conditions. Please see the information on walking and health conditions in our Get Walking section.
However we strongly recommend seeking medical advice before attending a walk if:
- A doctor has ever said you have a heart condition.
- You feel pain in your chest when you do physical activity.
- You ever lose balance because of dizziness or ever lose consciousness.
- In the past month have you have had pain in your chest when you were NOT doing physical activity.
- You have a bone or joint problem that could be made worse by a change in your physical activity.
For a short walk over easy terrain with your local Walking for Health scheme you won’t need any specialist clothing or equipment. But to stay comfortable and enjoy yourself we recommend the following:
• Wear comfortable clothes and sturdy, comfortable shoes or trainers.
• Several thin layers of clothing are better than one thick layer. You can take off layers as you warm up, or add them if you get cold.
• Take a good jacket unless you’re sure it’s not going to rain – it’s easier than an umbrella.
• Wear a hat: it keeps you warm in winter and protects you from the sun in summer.
• Wear gloves if it’s cold – it’s difficult to walk briskly with hands in pockets.
• Wear sun cream if you’re going to be outdoors for any length of time.
• Take a small bottle of water with you.
• A small backpack is more comfortable to walk with than an ordinary bag, but be sure to wear it properly with the straps adjusted to fit your body snugly.
The information on the OHQ is stored on the Walking for Health database which allows your local health walk scheme to demonstrate to potential or existing funders that they are making a difference to the physical activity levels of their local participants. It also enables the Ramblers and Macmillan to make the case for organisations to support Walking for Health on a national level, by monitoring its value as a public health intervention.
The information walkers submit on the OHQ forms is stored on a secure database managed by BTCV on behalf of the Ramblers, who host the Walking for Health national centre. The Ramblers will hold your information in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Access to the database is strictly controlled and monitored. Your information can only be viewed by those who need to do so at the Ramblers, Macmillan Cancer Support, your local health walks scheme, and others who work with us on the project. It will only be used to help evaluate and manage Walking for Health and, if you agree, to contact you in connection with health walks. Our organisations will not pass on your information to anyone else without your permission.
We will soon be launching a new database. This will replace the current database and OHQ with a more advanced and easier to use system for scheme coordinators and volunteers. The transfer to this new system will not affect data security and the new database will continue to be used inline with the Data Protection Act 1998.
Walking for Health welcomes children on walks as long as the walks are suitable for them. However, we don’t expect our schemes to take special responsibility for looking after children and young people under the age of 18.
As a general rule, Walking for Health schemes only accept children under the age of 15 on activities when they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or other person with equivalent responsibility for them such as a teacher or youth worker. Schemes only accept young people aged 15, 16 or 17 on activities unaccompanied, when they provide clear and preferably written consent of their parent or legal guardian. An example consent letter is available here for you to download, print and take along to a walk.
Schemes differ from scheme to scheme so it is best to contact them directly to find out whether they have any policies related to children on their specific walks.
For more information and advice on children attending our walks, please see our safeguarding guidance available here.
Please check with your local scheme before bringing a dog on a health walk. In general we recommend that you should exercise caution when bringing a dog on health walks.
For example, when around livestock dogs should be kept on ‘short’ leads (i.e. leads which are no more than two metres long) so they can be adequately controlled.
Even if livestock are not present, dogs should be ‘under close control’ at all times. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean on a lead, dogs should be kept on a lead if owners cannot rely on their obedience.
The vast majority of Walking for Health schemes provide health walks free of charge, but occasionally, some schemes may ask for a small charge or donation to cover the costs of promotional materials, volunteer expenses and other costs of running the walks. These schemes are often coordinated by volunteers and receive no backing from funders.
Walking for Health welcomes vulnerable adults on walks as long as the walks are suitable for them. However, don’t expect our schemes to provide specialist care and support for people who have special needs or who are unable to care independently for themselves.
All our schemes differ so it is always best to contact your local scheme directly to find out whether they have any policies related to adults in need of special care on their walks. However, as a general rule, we are only able to welcome adults in need of special care when they are accompanied by a carer or support worker to assist with their everyday needs.
For more information and advice on vulnerable adults attending our walks please see our safeguarding guidance here.