Scottish heart groups walk Europe for World Heart Day 2017

Coupling the power of our hearts with the power of World Walking seemed like such an obvious thing to do to mark World Heart Day 2017.

World Walking is the free website/app, inspired by the Inverclyde Globetrotters, one of the Inverclyde Leisure Trust’s exercise classes at the Waterfront Gym in Greenock, Scotland which initially served as a Phase IV cardiac rehabilitation class.

Created simply to motivate people to walk more, World Walking allows you to use the distances you walk in the real world to complete virtual walks to some of the world’s most wonderful places.  Since it was launched in October 2013 World Walking’s 23,300 users have clocked up more than 13 billion steps (5.6 million miles).

Getting started was as simple as a walk in the park.  On 2 August 2017, we created a ‘World Heart Day 2017’ group on World Walking and selected ‘Walk Europe’ from the 150 virtual walks available as our walking challenge.  We thought that if we could complete this 4,750 kilometer walk from Istanbul in Turkey to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain for World Heart Day 2017 it would be quite something.

We approached a number of people and groups we thought might be up for the challenge and were delighted by the response.

Fifteen individuals took part including:

  • Professor Gill Furze; Past President of the British Association for Cardiovascular Prevention and Rehabilitation; and 
  • Dr Andrew Murray; former Physical Activity Champion at the Scottish Government.

Nine groups also took part:

The cardiac rehabilitation services of four National Health Service Boards: 

  • NHS Forth Valley; 
  • NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; 
  • NHS Highland and 
  • NHS Lanarkshire.

Three community-based groups affiliated to Scottish Charity, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland:

  • The walking section of the Stirling Healthy Heart Club; 
  • The Inverclyde Globetrotters; and 
  • The Killie Heartmates.

Three groups based in Inverclyde:

  • An Inverclyde Leisure Trust Live Active group set up in partnership with NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde to assist individuals lead more physically active lifestyles; 
  • Hillend Day Care Centre which supports vulnerable older people ; and 
  • Clyde Activity Bikes; a local company set up by a former cardiac rehabilitation patient to provide opportunities for people to help reduce the risk of health problems through cycling.

Here's what a hospital cardiac rehabilitation nurse specialist said about our 'Walk Europe' challenge:

"It’s been a fantastic response and effort from all. I’ve got cardiac rehabilitation patients in their 80’s clocking up 20 -30,000 steps weekly and 2 in their 70’s hitting 80-90,000 weekly.

I  can‘t believe how well the patients and cardiac rehabilitation staff have responded. The sense of community that has developed  between our cardiac patients and staff is wonderful. W​e’re loving every step"

By the time World Heart Day came around on 29 September 2017 those taking part in this World Heart Day 2017 event had walked across Europe not once but six times.  The total distance walked to promote World Heart Day 2017 was 19,000 miles/ 30,578 kilometers.

Had we known how good the response was going to be we would have chosen a longer route!

Encouraged by the good response to this spur of the moment idea we have decided to plan another event to mark World Heart Day 2018.

If you would like to get ready for our 2018 ‘challenge’ why not join World Walking and clock up some miles in over coming months.

Joining is easy; just log on to and help get the world walking.

Contact Details:

Duncan Galbraith

World Walking

Email: [email protected]