Walking as a Group - The mind-body workout with friends

When was the last time you went for a walk with friends? If you are trying to stick to your weight-loss and fitness goals, there’s something to be said for group support. Choosing to take part in a group walking challenge could be just the thing for you.

The South West Coast Path Association are holding their annual walking Challenge this October, to raise money towards much needed improvement and repairs to our well-loved Path. It costs at least £1,000 every year to look after one mile of Coast Path.

Walking groups provide a wide range of both physical and mental health perks for people of all ages, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine. After analysing over forty reports the researchers found that study participants who engaged in outdoor walking groups saw significant improvements in blood pressure, resting heart rate, body fat, BMI percentages, and lung function. Social walkers were also significantly less depressed which makes sense considering all we know about the mental health benefits of exercise.

This year a range of different groups have signed up to the Coast Path Challenge. One group taking part definitely feels the benefit of walking together. Dawlish’s ‘Walk this Way’ Group in Devon, is part of a national initiative called Walking for Health, coordinated locally by Teignbridge District Council. Led by volunteer Nigel Rhys, a local retired postman, this forty strong band of merry men and women in their 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, meet every week on Mondays and Wednesdays to walk together.

The idea of the group is that walks are planned to suit the different abilities of its members. These range from two to three mile strolls on easy terrain to longer walks of eight to ten miles where the ups and downs of the Devon hills make for more strenuous exertion.

Nigel says: “Going for a walk with other people on a regular basis, is a great way to be sociable, stay active and see some beautiful scenery. We’re all looking forward to taking part in the Coast Path Challenge as it gives us something to aim for together. I’ve walked the whole Path in my time, mostly over twenty years ago, and I think it’s important that we help to make sure it’s still around for our children and grandchildren to enjoy.”

The group have pledged to do Challenge walks both locally and as part of an organised trip to Dorset. In Devon they will walk from Dawlish Warren to Teignmouth. In Dorset they will be walking on various sections of the path including through Lulworth Cove, along Weymouth sea front, around Portland Bill and past Abbotsbury, over a number of days. They are hoping, that in total, they will walk up to 400 miles together.

If you’d like to take part as a group for this Challenge you can join a ready-made walk like this one in Dorset – the Swanage 10 mile Challenge, led by staff from the South West Coast Path Association. This will take you on a walk through time along this iconic stretch of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, taking in Old Harry’s Rocks before reaching the official finish point of the South West Coast Path at South Haven Point.

Or if you’d like to register your own walking group for the Challenge just go to and let us know what you will be doing.

Registration starts from £10 for your own Challenges or £20 to join an organised group.

There is also discounted group registration for schools and youth groups at a group rate of £50 and receive 10 Challenge 2016 t-shirts with their registration pack and additional Challenge t-shirts are available at a discounted rate of £2 per t-shirt.


Published on: Aug. 24, 2016