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Walking

Walking is simple, cheap and one of the easiest ways to get more active, lose weight and become healthier. Walking briskly can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and make your heart healthier.

As well as our famous beaches and coastlines, south east Dorset has a great choice of parks, open spaces and paths within the region as well as some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside and coastline, right here on our doorstep.

But walking is not just about days out, because you can also turn your daily commute into a daily exercise session. You may not realise how walkable many of our towns and localities are. The average person can walk a mile in just 20 minutes – and often there are shortcuts you can take on foot that aren’t possible if you’re driving. Leaving the car at home and walking to work, the shop or school means less pollution, less congestion and a healthier you. If your work or school is too far to walk, could you walk to your local bus or train station instead – even for one journey a week? 

As part of the TCF funded programme, over the next few years BCP and Dorset councils are building dozens of new pedestrian crossings and better pavements and footpaths to improve journeys for pedestrians. Disabled pedestrians including people who use mobility scooters, wheelchairs or walking aids to get around will all be catered for in these improvements.

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Equipped to Walk

Walking is probably the cheapest form of travel or exercise. All you need are good shoes or trainers that are comfortable, provide adequate support and do not cause blisters to your feet. If you're walking to work, you could wear your usual work clothes with your comfy walking shoes and then change them to your more formal work shoes when you get there.

For longer walks, you may want to take some water, healthy snacks, sunscreen and a sun hat (if it is sunny), a rain jacket (in case it rains) and a small backpack to keep these essentials in. If you start going for regular longer walks, you may want to invest in some more specialist equipment like waterproof jackets and some walking boots for the more challenging routes. Also, don’t forget your trusty OS Map or a GPS to help you navigate.

Urban Walking Etiquette

Keep left. When walking on a pavement keep to the left if you can and away from the road edge. Cars and particularly larger lorries create a lot of turbulence when they pass which can knock you off your feet.

Try not to stop suddenly. There may be people walking or cycling (if on a shared path) behind you that will suddenly have to check their stride to avoid you if you stop.

Don’t take up the entire pavement. If there are two or more of you, it is tempting to walk side by side while you chat, but please allow room for others to pass you safely and don’t force them to step out into the traffic.

Give others space. Particularly people with push chairs, people with guide-dogs or a white cane, and wheelchair or mobility scooter users. It won’t take you more than a couple of seconds to step aside and let people pass but good manners never go amiss!

Be aware of your surroundings. Constantly looking at your phone whilst walking means you are not concentrating on what is around you. You might trip, bump into another person or object. Take extra care if you’re talking on the phone or wearing headphones as you may not hear someone or something coming up behind you.

Be extra careful when crossing junctions. If crossing a side road, watch out for cars turning into the road, particularly if they are crossing oncoming traffic. Pedestrians have priority if they are already in the road, but drivers may be distracted and not see you.

Use pedestrian crossings where they are available. Zebra, pelican, puffin etc crossings are there for a good reason and that reason is your safety. They will give you the safest way of crossing busy roads and it is best to use them if you can, especially if you’re crossing with children or adults that move a little more slowly.

If you are walking the dog, please keep them on a shorter lead when walking along the pavement so that people don’t get their legs tangled and cyclists don’t knock into them (if on a shared path). Remember that some people might find it hard to see a long line. Also, please remember the poop bags, clear up after your dog and put the used bag in a bin.

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Additional Country Walking Etiquette

If walking in the countryside, always remember the countryside code. Close any gates you go through, keep dogs under control near farm animals and take your rubbish home with you; leave only footprints.

Make sure you are fit and equipped for the route you will be taking and check the weather forecast before you begin. Avoid becoming a search and rescue statistic.

Start gently.  If you have been inactive for a while, don’t try and tackle a mountain summit straight away! Begin with circuits of local parks or short walks to work and build up gradually.

Useful links

NHS: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/walking-for-health/

Ramblers: https://www.ramblers.org.uk/

BCP - Services in Poole: https://www.poole.gov.uk/sports-and-leisure/sports-and-fitness/healthy-walks/

Bournemouth: https://www.bournemouth.co.uk/things-to-do/activities/walking-and-hiking

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