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 Walker registration form is stored on the Walking for Health database. This helps us understand who the programme is reaching and how you heard about us. This will help us to improve our reach and provides us with relevant information to report to potential or existing funders about the work we do, and make a case for their support.
The information you complete on the Walker registration form is held securely on the national Walking for Health database, which is managed by the Ramblers.
The confidential information is only accessed for anonymised reporting. This information is used by the Ramblers, Macmillan and the local scheme to enable us to manage, evaluate and conduct research about Walking for Health.
This does not automatically give the local scheme, the Ramblers or Macmillan permission to contact you to market other services or to fundraise. This is only the case if you have ticked the relevant boxes to ‘opt in’ to have other marketing information. By leaving this blank you are ‘opting out’ of all marketing information – including information about other services that may be of interest, potentially including fundraising.
Welcoming children and vulnerable adults Walking for Health welcomes children and vulnerable adults on walks and activities as long as they are suitable. We are committed to equal opportunities and diversity and aim to treat everyone with dignity and respect, and not to discriminate on grounds of age, disability, ethnicity, race, sex (gender), sexual orientation, gender reassignment, religion or beliefs or non-belief, marriage or civil partnership, or pregnancy or maternity.
We, 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, or to take special responsibility for looking after children and young people under the age of 18.
Walking for Health schemes should only accept children and young people under the age of 18 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. We should only welcome vulnerable adults when they are accompanied by a carer or support worker to assist with their everyday needs.
Scheme coordinators and walk leaders sometimes need to make judgements that take into account the safety and enjoyment of everyone involved in a walk. They have a right to refuse a participant if in the leader’s opinion this would result in danger to the individual or danger or major disruption to the rest of the group. Our walk leaders will make these judgements on a fair and practical basis and without making stereotypical or unwarranted assumptions.
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.