Walking to a Healthier Scotland

In March 2011, the Rural Policy Centre published a Policy Briefing on walking and health. Scotland often makes the headlines for the wrong reasons due to its poor health and physical activity records compared to other UK and European countries. A number of national, regional and local policies and initiatives have been launched in response to these health-related challenges, including the Cairngorms Walking to Health Programme, run by the Cairngorms Outdoor Access Trust (COAT). This is a health improvement and community development project offering short, safe, local walks targeted at people who would benefit from increasing their physical activity.

The Cairngorms Walking to Health Programme has recently been subject to an independent evaluation. The Rural Policy Centre Briefing complements this evaluation by exploring the national policy context and drivers for the local-level Programme, and drawing out the key policy implications. The Briefing offers a number of recommendations for future policy formulation in this area, including:

  • the need for evaluations to be carried out over the long-term and include a review of the wider 'tangible' and 'less tangible' benefits;
  • the importance of such Programmes in offering individuals a personalised and self-directed approach to meeting health and support needs;
  • the need to fully integrate Programmes such as this into the health system;
  • the need to ensure long-term investment to build on the success of such Programmes, particularly at a time when their cross-sectoral outcomes will allow for greater efficiency of public sector spend.

The Briefing is available via the Rural Policy Centre website.

Published on 25 March 2011 in Food, health and wellbeing