Public health minister Michael Matheson was at Scotland’s latest tourist attraction to help launch the 2014 National Walking strategy.
Falkirk’s multi-million pound Helix Park, which in its first month attracted 65,000 visitors, was selected to host the Commonwealth Big Fit Walk.
On the eve of the Glasgow Games, the message from the Scottish Government is everyone benefits from walking in well-designed places - and The Helix Park fits the bill!
Local community health walk group Step Forth joined schoolchildren from Moray Primary and Grangemouth High, members of the Paths for All charity, Mr Matheson and Shona Robison, cabinet secretary for sport, at the event.
Over 200 walks, each lasting just 30 minutes, are planned this month and will take place from Shetland to Dumfries to get communities involved in ‘putting their best foot forward’ and benefitting from a healthier lifestyle.
Mr Mathieson said: “Getting more people healthy and active through walking is an important aim and is why initiatives like The Big Fit Walk are great for raising awareness and encouraging people to get out and about. We know just 30 minutes walking each day provides more protection against death than any medication. People underestimate the good they can do themselves with even low levels of physical activity - walking to the local shop or even taking the stairs instead of the lift. These simple activities not only make people feel better quickly, they also add years of quality life.”
At a meeting of Falkirk Council’s Executive on Monday Maureen Campbell, Falkirk Community Trust’s chief executive, said The Helix Park is already proving to be the success it was hoped to be.
At the launch of the 2015-2020 Tourism Strategy she said: “The opening party in April was a sell-out and since the launch of the guided walks around the park over 65,000 people have taken part.”