FREE health walks are encouraging more people to get outdoors and improve their health.

The walks, laid on by Active Northumberland, are suitable for all abilities and take between half an hour and an hour and a half.

Walking reduces the risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia, strokes and some cancers. Walking in a group can also combat loneliness and depression.

Loraine Oliver, health walks coordinator for Active Northumberland, said: “We know that the benefits of sport and exercise are not just physical. Regular physical activity is great for the mind and our mental health. It can improve mood, lift self-esteem and reduce stress.

“Going for regular walks is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to become more active and improve your health.

"Some of our walks are short and very gentle so if you’ve had problems with your health or are new to walking, don’t worry, we’ll help you to get started.

“Our group walks also offer people the opportunity to explore their local area, meet new people and make more friends. I would encourage anyone who may be interested to give health walks a try.”

Active Northumberland is also looking for more volunteers to help support the popular, weekly walks. Volunteer walk leaders will help plan routes and accompany the walkers.

If you are interested and would like to know more, please email loliver@activenorthumberland.org.uk with your name and contact telephone number.

Programme:

Allendale, Thursday, 10.00am, meet at green opposite Isaac's Well

Bellingham, Wednesday, 10.30am, meet at Market Place

Corbridge, Wednesday, 10am, meet at The Chains

Hexham, Monday, 10am, meet at Wentworth Leisure Centre

Ponteland, Tuesday, 10.30am, meet at Ponteland Leisure Centre

Stocksfield, Monday, 10am, meet at Stocksfield Train Station

Wark, Tuesday, 10am, meet outside the post office