FOUR friends are urging people to make the most of their city – and get fitter.
Sustrans, a charity which promotes walking and cycling, has organised a series of free lunchtime walks in Portsmouth.
Just two weeks in, participants are reaping the benefits already.
‘I was introduced to these walks by a friend’, said June Berridge, of North End. ‘I hope it’ll help me to become fitter and healthier, as well as allowing me to begin to walk into work.
‘When you drive you don’t see anything, you’re going down the same roads every day and don’t have an opportunity to stop and look around you. It’s nice to leave the house without having to worry about parking.’
Each walk lasts around 45 minutes, at a pace that all can enjoy, and each walker is relishing the chance to hit the streets.
Organiser Sue Webber believes that beginners very quickly feel an improvement.
She said: ‘There are numerous health benefits, we all need to exercise and get our heart rates up. This scheme is also trying to form habits, we want people to get into the routine of going for a walk.
‘Light exercise, such as a brisk walk, has been shown to aid mental health too.
‘Such physical exertion releases endorphins, a chemical in the brain that improves self esteem and reduces stress and anxiety. Our walkers attested to this when asked how they felt 30 minutes in.’
‘I feel great, I am just happy and feel really good about myself,’ said Nikki Musson, a transport planning officer.
‘It’s nice to get out of the office and get some exercise, working up an appetite on your lunch break.’
Fellow stroller Amanda Morris was similarly enthused:
‘I just love getting outside,’ she said. ‘I have lived here for many years and am walking through parts of the city I didn’t even know existed.
‘It also stops me from walking into town and spending money on my lunch break.’
Sue is eager for more people to join them, saying that the city is tailor-made for such walks.
‘Portsmouth is a great, walkable city,’ she said.
‘It’s flat, compact and there is lots to discover. Just meet us at 12.30pm on a Wednesday and we’ll take it from there.’
The walks begin in Guildhall Square and will run for a further eight weeks.