Grand Union Canal helping people walk back to health

A local Nordic walking group is using the canal towpath in Hemel Hempstead as a way to keep fit and help local people walk themselves back to health.

The weekly sessions, which are run by occupational therapist and Nordic walking leader Jacqueline Smith and supported by the Trust, involve walking up to six miles along the canal towpath. The Wellbeing Walk is designed to improve the health and wellbeing of local people by getting them active and spending some time outdoors.

Nordic walking was designed to get your whole body moving. Using poles similar to ski poles, walkers propel themselves forward working harder than they normally would. This style of walking is easy on the joints and is suitable for all fitness levels and turns a walk into a whole body work out.

Mental and physical wellbeing
The group meet three times a week and is open to anyone who wants to give it a try. Recent research by the Trust shows that being outside next to water is good for you so this activity is perfect anyone who wants to improve their physical health or mental wellbeing.

Tav Kazmi, deputy regional director at the Trust, said: “Our waterways are perfect places to unwind and to forget about the stresses of daily life and the antidote we sometimes need in our fast-paced lives. The Nordic walking group is an ideal activity to try if you’re looking for something to get you away from the computer screens and outside enjoying some fresh air.

“As our canals are generally flat they are perfect for beginners or those just want a gentler approach to exercise – and with 2,000 miles to discover you can pretty much go anywhere in the country.”

Jacqueline Smith, Nordic walk leader, said: “Anyone is welcome to come and join us for our walks – they are energetic, great fun and you get to make lots of new friends. Being active is not only good for our bodies but it’s also great for our minds. It helps improve our happiness and self-esteem and exercising next to water not only improves our mental health it’s also just a lovely place to be.”

To join Jacqueline’s Nordic walking group visit Each walk costs between £5 – £8 per person.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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