A NATIONAL charity is urging people in Ayrshire to make it their New Year's resolution to get out walking more.

A new report has found that nearly one in five people in Scotland are not walking enough and leading charity Paths for All has urged people to take their next steps to turn that figure around in 2024.

The 2023 National Survey of Attitudes to Walking and Wheeling in Scotland – commissioned by Paths for All – found that 85 per cent of adults walk several times per week or daily, with more than half (59 per cent) walking for leisure or exercise.  

While 84 per cent said they enjoy walking because it is good for their health, a six per cent increase in 2019, only just under a quarter had heard or seen messages on the health benefits of walking.  

Ayr Advertiser: People in Helensburgh and Lomond are encouraged to start walking in the New YearPeople in Helensburgh and Lomond are encouraged to start walking in the New Year (Image: Paths for All)

Fiona Bull, head of physical activity at the World Health Organisation, presented evidence at a recent lecture held by Paths for All on how walking can save lives, and how Scotland is leading the charge. 

Dr Bull said: “Walking more regularly can contribute to saving lives and brings so many health benefits; but too often, walking is not being promoted enough. 

"The work Paths for All has been doing to get more people active is incredible, bringing communities together and ensuring all have access to walking groups, as well as upgrading infrastructure, and educating the public.  

“According to data released from Scotland, the country is bucking the trend, with collective action there has been a 7 per cent increase in physical activity, and to see that nearly all Scots are walking for health benefits is commendable.” 

Dr Bull reinforced that walking is the best way to get more people of all ages doing more physical activity both in Scotland and globally.

Examples of how cities are making communities more walkable were shared at the event, including the example of Vienna, which created a Year of Walking. 

Ayr Advertiser: The survey found 85 per cent of adults walk several times per week or dailyThe survey found 85 per cent of adults walk several times per week or daily (Image: Paths for All)

According to the National Survey of Attitudes to Walking and Wheeling in Scotland, people with a long-term physical or mental health condition or illness were also significantly more likely to have encountered cars parked on the pavement, roads that were difficult to cross or poor maintained pavements.

Of those walking for short journeys, Paths for All found a desire to get fit, relax and unwind, and enjoyment to be the main motivations for people to get out and about. 

Louise Bursle, communications and marketing manager at Paths for All, said: “We’re keen to eliminate barriers to make frequent walking possible for everyone in Scotland to reap wellbeing rewards. 

“As we enter a new year, many people will be setting resolutions to be more active, but you don’t need to make big commitments to see the benefits. Just adding a short walk to your daily routine will have an impact.

“By making streets more welcoming through improved lighting, seating, better surfaces, and amenities within reach, we can help fulfil people's desire to integrate walking into their days - ultimately getting Scots moving together.”  

To watch Fiona Bull's full lecture and for more information about Paths for All visit pathsforall.org.uk.