Walking for Pleasure
Why let social walking be a once-a-year thing?
The Walking for Pleasure concept has existed in some form for almost 50 years, ever since 1975 when Norm from Life.Be In It urged us to get off the couch.
Albert Brakel, one of our longstanding members, explained why Walking For Pleasure was developed as a joint initiative of Life.Be In It with the ACT government.
‘Surveys at the time showed that less than half the population took part in regular exercise, and walking was a way to change this. [It was hoped that by] providing a pleasurable introduction to walking as a social outing … people would be more likely to adopt a regular walk habit. The walks would not be too vigorous (like bushwalking), but would be enjoyable, safe, cheap, and improve cardiovascular fitness and other aspects of health.’
For those who enjoy the Aussie Peace Walk, ACT Walking for Pleasure offers the opportunity to maintain your social walking practice throughout the year.
If you come along to one of our walks, you may see some familiar faces:
Many of our members have had a long association with the Aussie Peace Walk as volunteers and you will see some of them as walking guides wearing fluro vests at the event this year. Have a chat to them to find out more about Walking For Pleasure.
The social aspect of Walking for Pleasure has been a big factor in its ongoing success – We walk often, and with pleasure.
Members may come for the exercise, but very often they will stay because of the social contact.
The organization currently has about 350 members, and individual walks may contain up to 30 or 40 walkers. That can provide for several interesting conversations over the course of a single walk. Many of us take the opportunity to do-si-do between walking/talking partners at drink breaks, and it is an accepted part of group etiquette.
‘I have found Walking for Pleasure to be a Walking Encyclopedia where something new is learned every walk from fellow walkers. For example: the best movies, the latest book titles the best exhibitions, U3A, recipes, and of course travel.’
Each one of our members is also a potential walk leader, meaning there is a huge variety of walks on offer. We do not have set walking routes – walks can happen wherever a member is prepared to lead one.
Walking for Pleasure walks may happen anywhere in Canberra, or even in nearby areas of Namadgi, Queanbeyan, Jerrabomberra, Murrumbateman or Yass.
If you join Walking for Pleasure, be prepared to pack your metaphorical CBR passport because you’ll be crossing the Lake!
Our Walk coordinators try to alternate walks between northside, southside and ‘other’. New members initially may be reluctant to drive too far beyond their own neighborhood for a walk, but many soon find great pleasure in being able to discover ‘foreign territories’ and hidden treasures of which they were previously unaware.
‘One of the things that I have got out of Walking for Pleasure is seeing places that I never knew existed in Canberra. But mainly it is the social contact and friendships. And the deferred housework.’
Canberra is uniquely suited to this aspect of Walking for Pleasure. There are few capital cities in the world where walkers can enjoy a bush walk, or find a clear 360°view of their surroundings, within just a few kilometers of the central business district.
Even on suburban walks, the walk leaders manage to find the laneways, green belts and bike paths that only insiders would know. The walks may be in the suburbs, yet we may be oblivious to the houses. And for the safety of all, the organization has a well-developed protocol for walking on bike paths that ensures peaceful co-existence with cyclists.
Focus on Fitness
Although we walk for pleasure, we also take fitness seriously. Firstly, we walk often. ACT Walking for Pleasure offers morning walks, Tuesday through Sunday, most days of the year. With such availability, members can walk as frequently as they wish.
Secondly, we walk with intent. About half the walks are two hours long, which is roughly about 10,000 steps, and these are held on the Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. After one of these walks, there is no guilt in spending the rest of the day on the couch with a good book.
‘When I see some people of similar age to me plodding around shopping centres with difficulty, I realise that 26 years’ membership of Walking for Pleasure has probably left me stronger and fitter than I would otherwise have been.’
Other walking abilities are catered for. On Thursdays there is a one-hour stroll for those with limited mobility. The Tuesday walks are also fairly gentle, and last one and a half hours.
By contrast, the Saturday walks are a little more ambitious, lasting up to three hours, and covering distances from 10 kilometers and upwards. Twice a month there are longer walks that last into the afternoon. These can cover from 12 to 18 kilometers, and sometimes involve significant ascents and descents such as Mount Tennant, and Orroral Ridge.
Members have complete flexibility to choose among the walks on offer.
Participants don’t need to commit to a particular day, nor to pre-book for a walk. The walk program gives full descriptions of each walk, including whether it involves hills or rough terrain, so walkers can make informed choices about the individual walks that suit their interests and abilities.
For Aussie Peace Walkers, ACT Walking for Pleasure offers an equivalent walking experiences on a regular basis. Those participating in the 7-kilometer Peace Walks would feel perfectly at home with a two-hour Walking for Pleasure walk, held every Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Those participating in the 11 or 12 kilometer Peace Walks would be well suited to the Saturday Walking for Pleasure walks.
Those participating in the 21, 24 or 42-kilometer Peace walks would take the Walking for Pleasure longer walks in their stride – both literally and figuratively.
Aussie Peace Walkers would have the opportunity to try some ACT Walking for Pleasure walks before deciding whether to join. Simply contact us and let us know you have done the Aussie Peace Walk and we will send you two weeks’ of the walking program and are free to trial as many of those walks as you wish.
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