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Guild and Heart Foundation Community Walking Groups

Pharmacy Guild - Guild and Heart Foundation community Walking Groups

In a push toward a nationally coordinated physical activity strategy, the Heart Foundation’s ‘Move More, Sit less’ campaign, launched this week for Heart Week 2015, aims to raise awareness around the risks involved with sustained physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour.

To support this campaign the Pharmacy Guild of Australia is partnering with the Heart Foundation to promote the value of Heart Foundation Walking Groups and encourage member pharmacies to become ‘Walk Organisers’ in their community.

The numerous physical health benefits of walking are well documented. Among other benefits, walking has been shown to be useful in lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, maintaining a healthy weight and controlling diabetes. There is also further evidence which indicates that walking as part of a group promotes not only physical health, but also emotional health and wellbeing.

Michelle Wilson, National Program Manager of Heart Foundation Walking said: “Heart Foundation Walking groups are perfect for people of all ages and fitness levels.” “Community pharmacies can play an important role in getting their local communities physically active by starting their own Heart Foundation Walking Groups. As highly accessible and trusted health destinations, community pharmacies are in an ideal position to help promote the key messages of the ‘Move More, Sit less’ campaign,” said Ms Wilson.

Pharmacists are well placed to direct discussion during walks to raise awareness of important health issues, and answer consumer questions. Furthermore, pharmacies are encouraged to start groups which specifically target health issues or populations central to their community, for example a stroller group to engage with parents, or a ‘slow movers’ group for elderly people or those with arthritis.

Heart Foundation Walking is a successful and proven program which currently engages over 20,000 participants across Australia. The program provides pharmacies with the opportunity to access a wealth of knowledge, training and resources, which have been built up and developed over the past 20 years of the program. In addition, a network of Local Coordinators are on hand to ensure Walk Organisers are always adequately supported.

This initiative through pharmacies is not new, with a number of pharmacies already participating in Heart Foundation Walking Groups with great success.

Commenting on her experience with Heart Foundation Walking groups in Western Australia, Felicity Hatzis of Laurie Keys Chemmart Pharmacy said: “The creation of a Heart Foundation Walking Group at our pharmacy has been an immensely positive and rewarding experience. For me, as a health professional, it has provided me with an alternative opportunity to initiate conversations about healthy lifestyles and behaviour change, as well as proving to be a worthwhile project for community engagement.”

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