From bustling towns to rural villages, people across Suffolk are invited to ‘Walk this Way’ by taking on the countywide walking challenge.
Suffolk County Council’s public heath team is encouraging people to sign up to the challenge, record their walks, challenge their friends, family and colleagues and keep track of everyone’s progress online at www.walkthiswaysuffolk.co.uk.
Those taking part can share their experiences by Tweeting using the hashtag #walkthiswaysuffolk, which will encourage others to recommend their favourite walks, upload photos and nominate friends and family to join in.
The challenge runs from Monday 12 to Saturday, May 31 and registration is currently open to all.
Participation is completely free, and everyone logging an activity will be automatically entered into a random daily draw with the opportunity to win prizes.
Councillor Joanna Spicer, chairman of Suffolk’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “I’m glad to be taking part in this month’s walking activity and the challenge is an excellent way for people to have fun and enjoy the outdoors, no matter where they live.
“Everyone can get involved by challenging friends and family to join in, share their experiences and most importantly, reap the many benefits that walking brings.
“This sort of physical activity is one of the priority areas for Suffolk in terms of supporting people to stay fit and well.
“It’s free, fun and can make a significant contribution to people’s long-term wellbeing.”
The challenge is part of national walking month, which begins with the popular Suffolk Walking Festival on May 10 and national Walk to Work Week starting on Monday, May 12.
Walking statistics for 2012/13 reveal that 42 per cent of Suffolk people participate in a minimum of ten minutes walking five times per week.
Health experts have identified a range of benefits associated with regular walking of up to 30 minutes every day, including a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease, some cancers and even improvements to mental health.
Other walking groups will be supporting the challenge, including Nowton Walks in Bury St Edmunds and Suffolk Pramblings, set up by young families for walks which are buggy-friendly around the east coast.
Karen Thomas, who coordinates Suffolk Pramblings, said: “The Suffolk Walking Challenge is a great way to get new and existing walkers out into the fantastic Suffolk countryside.
“We live in a beautiful place and walking is a great way to get healthy and enjoy the environment with friends and family.”