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]

World Heart Day 2017 is on Friday 29 September 2017.

Help World Walking celebrate this day and by joining our World Heart Day 2017 group and walk across Europe to help inspire people to be heart healthy.

Here is the link to the group:

Taking part is easy:

  1. Register to join World Walking if you haven't already created your free account, or login if you are already a world walker.
  2. Search for and join the World Heart Day 2017 group via the World Walking 'Groups' page. You can find it by entering worldheartday2017 in the search box
  3. Start the group walk - Walk Europe - which you can do by clicking on your ‘My Walks’ page where you will see this group walk is available for you to start.
  4. Start walking and adding your steps/miles/kilometers.

Simple as a walk in the park.

We are looking forward to having your company on the walk.

PS Any questions, please contact: [email protected]

Thank You and Happy Walking

Best Wishes


World Walking

Heart & Sole Walk 2015

A worldwide walk with a difference to promote heart health has just been completed thanks to World Walking, a unique free website created by a group of ordinary people living with heart conditions simply to motivate people to walk more.

In February, the ‘Heart & Sole Walk 2015’ was launched with the aim of virtually walking round the world to promote the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation. The challenge, which was supported by the Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons of Glasgow, was organised by:

  • Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland;
  • The British Association for Cardiac Prevention & Rehabilitation;
  • The Cardiac Rehabilitation Interest Group for Scotland; and 
  • The Inverclyde Globetrotters, the heart health group from Greenock which created World Walking.

Over 100 individuals and heart health groups took part to complete the 34,000 mile challenge; one of the longest heart health walk ever undertaken and the first online to circumnavigate the globe involving people on different continents. 

Cardiac rehabilitation and heart health groups and services from across the UK took part ranging from the Highland Heartbeat Centre in Inverness to the Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust.  The Mid Essex cardiac rehabilitation team have had so much fun taking part in the Heart & Sole Walk that they now plan to walk another lap of the world…in the opposite direction!

Amongst the other most active walkers were a group of 144 prisoners at Wakefield Prison who clocked up over 3,100 miles.  The Prison’s Physical Education Officer, Neil Evans said

Over 20% of the 750 prisoner population suffer with cardiac related issues. 144 prisoners voluntarily participated in this organized event. This challenge was a fantastic initiative to raise awareness across the establishment and provide additional opportunities for prisoners to get involved in physical activity at the appropriate level. The success of this project has raised awareness of their own health & well-being and increased participation levels across the establishment.  As a result, future projects have been proposed to develop the health & well-being of cardiac patients at this prison."

This unique event also brought together groups from as far afield as Canada and Australia.

The Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year.  To mark that important milestone a special walk across Canada was created on World Walking which the 6,000 members of the Foundation’s 30 Walk for Life groups across Canada could tackle together as part of their anniversary celebrations. The walk across Canada was based on the route taken by a young man named Alex Horton who had cycled 5,000 miles across Canada in 2011 “to give back to an organisation that had done so much for him in his life and to show that issues with cardiac health don't have to mean the end of active lifestyle and following your ambitions”.

The Foundation’s Executive Director, Barbara Kennedy, said

“We have walked across Canada with our Toronto Walk of Life event alone and all our 30 Walk of Life groups across Canada will also be taking part. Congratulations to all for this international collaboration of advocacy of cardiac health, rehabilitation and wellness!”

On the other side of the world, a group of ‘Heartmoves’ clients in the small town of Quirindi in rural New South Wales, Australia led by Cardiac Rehabilitation Nurse Specialist, Robyn Lees, have been so inspired by the event that they have decided to walk half was round the world to meet the Inverclyde Globetrotters, the heart health group in Greenock who created World Walking, starting on June 11th to coincide with the National Heart Foundation of Australia’s “Go Red For Women” campaign.

The Walk’s Patron, Louise Martin CBE, Chair of Sportscotland said:

“I am delighted to see so many people taking part in the Heart and Sole Walk 2015. Remaining physically active after a heart related issue can be vital and I am proud that this event has helped to spread this message far and wide. 

Making physical activity a part of your daily life is so important to overall wellbeing and this virtual walk around the world will benefit those who have taken part as well as those who have been inspired by the event.”

Louise Jopling, Honorary Secretary of the British Association for Cardiac Prevention and Rehabilitation added: 

“BACPR promotes excellence in cardiovascular disease prevention and rehabilitation and we are delighted to congratulate the individuals, groups and organisations who came together from across the globe to 'walk the world'.  As well as Cardiac Rehabilitation Groups, many of our members and Council took part and benefited ourselves from some motivation to keep active! BACPR is proud to support the Heart & Sole Challenge and in providing an innovative, fun and engaging way to promote physical activity.”

For Further Information:

Duncan Galbraith, World Walking

Email: [email protected]

Tel: 0775 750 1203