HALIFAX: A new provincial walking program is talking place weekly in Antigonish, and there are plans to offer one in Port Hood.

Last week Hike Nova Scotia announced its latest program, NS Walks, which they said will provide social support for those who are less active and want to start walking or walk more regularly.

“These are gentle walks on level ground meant for people who might be currently less active for whatever reason,” said Catherine Droesbeck, with Hike NS. “There are 30-60 minutes in length depending on the group.”

While there is currently a weekly walk at Antigonish Landing at the end of Adam Street every Monday at 6 p.m., Droesbeck said there are expansion plans.

“Currently, the only Cape Breton one is Sydney, but Port Hood is in the works,” she told The Reporter.

According to Hike NS, NS Walks is a free program that trains volunteer walk leaders across Nova Scotia to lead friendly walks in their communities that are perfect for those who might be less active.

“We know there are many people who want to be more active, but say they don’t have anyone to be active with,” says Janet Barlow, Executive Director of Hike NS. “NS Walks walking groups are perfect for those just getting back into activity or who simply want to get out and be with other people.”

NS Walks also hopes the initiative will decrease barriers some people may face to becoming more physically active, Barlow noted.

“Walking is an inclusive, affordable and accessible activity that anyone can enjoy.”

The pilot program launched in the summer of 2021, and has formed about 25 groups, Hike NS said, noting it is now ramping up and looking for more participants and leaders in communities across the province.

“Being with other people fuels me,” explains Colin McCrae, a walk leader in Dartmouth. “Our walks are about connecting people with each other. We walk and talk and use all the senses while enjoying nature. It benefits our minds, bodies and spirits.”

NS Walks is a program of Hike Nova Scotia and is funded by the Department of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage and the Department of Seniors and Long Term Care. The Healthy Tomorrow Foundation, through its Make your Move Campaign, is the communication partner of NS Walks. NS Walks is also supported by Zoomers Physiotherapy & Health Solutions, Smith + Andersen and the Nature Canada Work to Grow Program.

For more information on NS Walks, visit: www.nswalks.ca.