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There is a growing interest in Nordic Walking in the UK. We wanted to see if we could encourage people to take up the activity on the advice of their local GP. This involved 4 hours of training from a Nordic Walking UK instructor, then 2 walks on the Cleveland Way National Trail.


North York Moors National Park Authority, in partnership with Pauline Straw a Nordic Walking UK Instructor and the GP Surgery at Sandsend and Sleights


It was intended to be carried out by patients from the 2 surgeries who were advised by their GP that Nordic walking might be a healthy activity to improve their lifestyle. 12 places were available on the course.


The participants enrolled in a four hour course to learn how to carry out Nordic Walking. This was broken down into individual hour sessions on a weekly basis. Once the sessions were complete and the participants had learnt the techniques for maximum benefit it was followed by 2 visits to the coastal Cleveland Way/North Sea Trail to enjoy Nordic Walking in a outstanding landscape.


Working with Pauline Straw, a local Nordic Walking Instructor we contacted several GP surgeries on the coast and asked if they would be interested in advising appropriate patients to join the Nordic Walking course. The Practice Managers from one surgery were interested and we met and agreed the process. However we only received three referrals this way, so in order to fill the course details of the offer were promoted in the local newspaper. This brought an immediate reaction so that the course quickly filled and was able to run. Regular feedback was obtained from the walkers to test the success of the course and if they were likely to continue Nordic Walking in the future.


The course was planned for 12, but actually 13 participated.


It was not a great success in terms of the relationship with the GP Surgery and referrals of patients from it. It is possible that there was not a full understanding from the Surgery that Nordic Walking is a suitable activity for people of all abilities and need not be a strenuous activity. However the activity itself was a great success, with very positive feedback from the participants, who have gone on to form a local group the "Sleights Striders" They are all looking to continue Nordic Walking into the future.

Also successful was the work with Pauline, the Nordic Walking Instructor. It has helped her business in getting a better understanding of the process of getting a group set up and using the media to gain publicity.


· We expected one of the main reasons for people to take up the Nordic Walking course was to lose weight. However it seems that people were more interested in the chance to meet other people and enjoy a social activity

· Lone walking can be seen as a barrier and the establishment of a group has helped to overcome this for some of the participants

· One participant reported that the poles gave her more confidence in countryside walking through the increased stability

· It would take a different approach to reach patients through GP surgeries. One way might be to offer "Taster" sessions to GPs and staff to help them gain a fuller understanding of the activity and its health benefits.

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