Suffolk New Year

Mary Tweed
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On Monday, millions of people from around the year will be celebrating the Chinese New Year with fortune cookies, fireworks and feasting. 2016 is the year of the Monkey, an animal characterised in the Chinese Zodiac by its brilliance and perseverance.

However, did you know that 2016 is also the Suffolk Year of Walking? Like the monkey, there are elements of brilliance and perseverance to be found in walking. It is the most brilliant form of exercise, putting up few if any barriers for participants (low cost / no equipment / anytime / anywhere). If you persevere with your walking you will see results: weight loss, feeling of well-being, mood improvement, better balance, reduce risk of many chronic illnesses.

Following on from the Suffolk Year of Cycling and promoted by the County Council, the aim is to encourage people, who are currently inactive, to incorporate this most accessible of all activities into their everyday life, either by walking recreationally or walking as a means of transport.

In a document published by Health and Wellbeing Suffolk, the following facts are stated:

  • Of the 730,000 people who live in Suffolk, approximately one third lives in the three main towns of Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Lowestoft, a third in the market towns and a third within the rural areas.
  • An increasing proportion of the population is elderly. Between 2008 and 2031 those aged 65 years and over in Suffolk are projected to increase from 19.2% of the population to 25.9%: an increase of over 85,000 people aged 65 years and over.
  • According to the Department for Transport, 22.3% of Suffolk residents do not walk for 10 minutes more than once a week and only 42.1% of Suffolk’s population is walking for 10 minutes or more 5 x per week.

The same document describes walking as the “gateway to activity” and goes on to make the point that:

“Walking is simple, free and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. Walking one mile will take just 15 minutes if walking at 4mph. It is underrated as a form of exercise but walking is ideal for people of all ages and fitness levels who want to be more active. Regular walking has been shown to reduce the risk of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, respiratory diseases, stroke and some cancers – all of which are key causes of early death in Suffolk. Walking can also be a great way of reducing social isolation and improving mental health, and is often a gateway activity into organised sport and other physical activities.”

So, if you forgot to make any resolutions in the rush of Christmas and New Year, why not make one now to mark Chinese New Year and resolve to participate in the Suffolk Year of Walking. Nordic Walking East Anglia will be encouraging walkers to pick up there poles and make the most of enjoying some recreational explorations of Suffolk’s beautiful footpaths and wide open spaces. For more information, do get in touch with either Katharine or Mary. Gong Hey Fat Choy.

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