Walk Leader Joe Shares His Walking For Health Journey During Men’s Health Week

8th June 2023
Joe Bastable Volunteer Walk Leader South Eastern Trust

“Walking is free and a great social activity, you can meet interesting people from a variety of backgrounds and enjoy improving your fitness at a gentle pace.”

Comments from Joe Bastable who volunteers as a Walk Leader for the South Eastern HSC Trust’s Walking for Health programme. Joe arranges and facilitates walking groups just outside Downpatrick in the very scenic Lecale area.

During Men’s Health Week (Monday 12 June – Sunday 18 June 2023) the South Eastern HSC Trust is shining a light on the importance of men being physically active and Joe is a great example of that. Walking became a lifeline for Joe in his late teen years as a way to manage his chronic asthma condition, which unfortunately caused Joe to spend a lot of his early years in hospital. He had to manage his condition using numerous medications over the years, which meant that he was unable to play sports such as football and rugby like most young people his age.

Walking provided Joe with a great form of exercise that could be tailored to his daily needs and abilities, it also gave him the opportunity to gradually build up his walking distance as his lung capacity improved over the years and it has enabled him to reduce his reliance on medication.  Joe explained, “Walking has given me a freedom that I never imagined I would ever have, I no longer need daily medication which has been life changing for me. I really enjoy my walk leader role and I have encouraged many people in the local community to join me on the arranged walks.

“It’s great to see so many men within the walking groups, often we can be guilty of not really focusing on our health and wellbeing so walking is a great option for many, especially those in this area who previously worked the land as a farmer, but have retired from their daily farming life. Walking keeps them connected to the area that they propagated for so many years and has provided them with an opportunity to meet others in the same situation, which in turn has created friendships and connections outside of the walking groups.

“I would encourage everyone to give walking a try, it’s such a wonderful way to exercise and it helps you to de-stress, especially after a busy day. It has great health benefits and is something that a majority of people are able to take part in, give it a go, you have nothing to lose but a lot to gain.”

The Walking for Health Programme was implemented in 2001 to encourage good physical and mental health. The programme is delivered through HSC Trusts across Northern Ireland and is supported by the Public Health Agency. Walking for Health encourages adults to minimise the amount of time they spend sedentary each week and encourages them to engage in walks to accumulate the recommended 2.5 hours of physical activity each week.

If you are interested in finding a walking group near you, please contact the Walking for Health Team by telephoning (028) 9268 0852 or email wendy.mcdowell2@setrust.hscni.net

You can find out more information about Men’s Health Week by visiting www.mhfi.org