Wealthy, Healthy, Strong and Smart

We all know that the overindulgence of the end of year results in quickly made (and quickly broken), resolutions to get fit, be healthy and exercise more.

But there are excellent reasons to strengthen your resolve and stay committed to those goals you set in early January. In Scotland, the health risks linked to inactivity are shocking - 7 Scots die every day due to inactivity, often long before they have to.

Physical inactivity costs the NHS in Scotland over £90 million annually and it is estimated that getting active through walking, could increase life expectancy by more than a year.

There is also a huge return on investment into walking facilities. Evidence shows a return of approximately £8 for every £1 invested in path development projects*, which lessens the burden on the NHS and can free up funding for social care, education and other vital services.

So walking helps the community, but how does walking help you?

Walking is free! If you replace one bus or car journey every week with a walk, you will soon see the financial benefits.

The Stroke Association says that a brisk 30-minute walk every day helps to prevent and control the high blood pressure that causes strokes, reducing the risk by up to 27 percent.

Walking regularly can also cut the risk of type 2 diabetes and many types of cancer. There are even studies which show that regular walking can slow the onset of dementia. A lack of vitamin D affects many people in the UK, which has an impact on bone health and the immune system. Get outdoors and get your daily vitamin D hit.

The average person walks at around three miles per hour and walking for just 30 minutes at that speed will burn around 100 calories. Walking improves muscle tone too, so a daily half an hour will soon define those calves and help to shed pounds, which leaves lots of scope for visiting one of Fife’s many fantastic cafes, restaurants or hotels for a celebratory , guilt-free scone!

Everyone knows having more energy helps you feel better and walking is the perfect natural energiser. While you walk, your circulation improves and in turn, increases the oxygen supply to every cell in your body, helping you to feel more alert. A brisk walk on your lunch break could help you have a more productive afternoon. And maybe secure that promotion...?

Fife Coast and Countryside Trust have over 340km of paths across Fife which, linked with the Core Path Network, can help you get started on your walking adventure.

Our 40 sites offer a huge range of walking experiences for everyone. Local Nature Reserves provide wild spaces where plants and animals, both common and rare, can thrive. In particular the reserves also offer unique opportunities to explore or study your local nature, or to simply enjoy a gentle walk.

Great places to start include Coul Den in Glenrothes, Birnie Gaddon Lochs near Collessie and Dalbeath Marsh near Cowedenbeath, which are easy walks of around a mile in beautiful settings.

If you prefer the coast, the Fife Coastal Path is Scotland’s oldest and longest and covers 117 miles through rich and varied landscapes from the Firth of Forth to the Firth of Tay. Obviously, no-one is expecting you to tackle it in one shot! The FIfe Coastal Path website shows detailed routes and maps where you can plan your walk and find out information on public transport and facilities.

There are fifty one businesses along the Coastal Path which are designated Welcome Ports, offering information, advice and a range of facilities which can include catering, toilets and water for your dog.

We also care for 14 beaches along Fife’s Fringe of Gold and they offer windswept walks along deserted sands to full on family fun. Regardless of the weather, beaches are great places to explore from beach combing to rock pooling and paddling to photography. A brisk walk along the sands is a great way to energise too.

So whatever your reasons for getting out there, Fife’s fabulous coast & countryside offers you everything you’ll ever need to make 2016 your year of walking.

*Source - Paths for All (2013) SROI - Glasgow Health Walks, Social Return on Investment Analysis.
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