Keith Wallace (leading the walk on our front cover) “I set up ‘On Your Doorstep’ for Mansfield to encourage people to take regular exercise and provide the chance to socialise. I had a heart attack at 36 and two heart procedures for arrhythmia – I now know the benefits of regular gentle exercise. Walking helped me get fitter and establish a regular routine of exercise. My problems had led to depression, with feelings of loneliness and low self-esteem that often accompany it. Walking in a group has helped me recover and keep more positive. I thought that if it could do that for me, maybe it could work for others.

“Since we started three years ago, we have moved from one walk per fortnight to seven per week. Over 120 people come on at least one of our walks every week. “One man came as he was fed up of his daughter nagging him to get out of the house. He said he expected his first walk to kill him, but he celebrated his 90th birthday last year and invited his new friends to the party.

“A woman whose husband had died, leaving her feeling lost and alone, gradually made new friends and is now doing things that she thought she would never do again”. The walk illustrated started in Newstead village.

Gedling Country Park group meets Mondays and Wednesdays, at the Spring Lane car park. Mary Hill, the group leader, was trained initially to take health walks but because of ill health began walking with one, before volunteering to lead the two Arnold groups She is convinced of the benefits these regular outings give, especially to those living alone.

Lorna, with a big smile, says she has been walking for over a year with the two groups. Loves the social chat as well as feeling much healthier. David (aged 72), a former biologist, knows the value of this gentle exercise. It has reduced his arthritis pains, but admits that he loves the gossipy social side of the walking even more.

It was obvious from Ken’s sunny smile that he enjoys the social chatter, but admits that he has felt the benefit of walking regularly for two years. ‘I can walk uphill and talk at the same time now’ he quips. Sheila and Frank both exercise regularly elsewhere, but enjoy being out with this jaunty and sociable group

Rushcliffe Country Park This group meets at the Education Centre on Wednesdays, but splits into smaller parties shortly after leaving it. Duncan Ritchie led the slightly larger party for about 2 miles around this very attractive park. George, the eldest at 83 years, has worked for 51 of them, glad now to relax with his friends.

Carl asserted that the social side is as important as the walking. ‘Both mentally and physically, the benefits are there to see and feel’, he says. His wife Carolyn agrees, saying “We bring a friend with us who takes no other exercise. It’s good for him to get out with our group”.

Out in the lead, Susan was very positive too. “Lovely morning today— I’m enjoying the exercise and meeting other people – discussing all sorts of things. We’re out in all weathers it’s better than the gym!” Walking beside her, Andy agreed. “I just like being out in the fresh air— and I guess it’s doing me good!” At the end, enjoying the lakeside view, Brenda brightly summed it up. “Well, when you live alone, it’s lovely to get out with a cheerful group like ours.”

Woodthorpe Grange Park This group walks 1.1/2 to 2 miles in the Park but meets first every Monday morning at the Sherwood Community Centre, promoted by Age UK. Rubina’s view was that “Fresh air, exercise, meeting people and just doing something for me makes me fitter.” Vicky felt much the same“ a chance to socialise and get me out of the house, and to enjoy things in general.” David revealed a little more. “I’m here because I am a Type 2 diabetic and was recommended to exercise more, so I’ve been coming on these weekly walks. I quite enjoy it. They’re nice people and it’s a good steady walk.”