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Physiotherapist Blazej Pytko is the Walk Leader for Nairn Cardiactives.
Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Cardiactives in Nairn is a health walk, run in conjunction with Paths for All, that is open to anyone with a heart condition and to their family and friends.
Health walks are short, social and accessible low-level walks for those who want to be more active. Nairn Cardiactives meet every Monday at Nairn Community Centre from 6pm until 7.30pm.
If you’re interested in joining, please speak to your GP and ask for a referral. You can find out more here.
Physiotherapist Blazej Pytko is the Walk Leader for Nairn Cardiactives. We asked Blazej to walk us through the group.
How did you first get involved in Cardiactives?
The head physio at Nairn Hospital had suggested running cardio active classes at the local community centre, and I thought that was a great idea. That was back in October 2016 and I’ve been involved ever since.
How many people are involved in your group?
We currently have 10 people on the health walk and 12-15 taking part in outdoor circuit training.
What types of conditions are Cardiactives members living with?
Most of our members have health and circulatory diseases. Mainly these are people who have had heart attacks or are stroke survivors. But we also have healthy people join us who simply want to get fit and be healthy, both mentally and physically.
What kind of terrain do you walk on, and is there a preference for a particular area?
We walk on a mixture of tarmacadam paths, sand, grass etc. Our preference is for safe, multi terrains away from traffic and main routes. Our routes are varied according to the weather conditions and risk assessment, and we also change routes regularly to make it more interesting for the walkers.
Members of the Cardiactives.
How has the pandemic impacted on the Cardiactives over the course of the last 18 months? What challenges have the group faced?
The pandemic has had a huge impact for any organised activity, specifically indoor activities. It has also had an enormous impact for mental health and physical activities. According to the government guidance, everything had to stop. Our Cardiactives group wasn’t allowed to run usual activities, so we had to find another option for what we could do instead. Cooperating with CHSS and Paths for All let me organise outdoor activities. These health walks were in accordance with government regulations. That was a positive breakthrough.
Our first walk was on December 9, 2020. We organised two walks a week. One was a long walk of around an hour on Wednesdays and a shorter half-hour walk on Fridays.
How has the introduction of a health walk supported the group members as we have come out of lockdown?
The health walks are definitely helping our members both mentally and physically. They offer such a good social aspect. The walks mean a lot and make such a big difference for our group.
What is or was the biggest challenge in setting up the walk?
The biggest challenge was waiting for the green light from the government to do anything. The rest was a matter of good organisation and encouragement. We fortunately had positive people involved who were willing to make it happen. That’s the best way – surround yourself with the right people and the rest will be easy-peasy.
What do you enjoy most about being a walk leader?
First and foremost, I enjoy being a walk leader because I like helping people.
What do the group members think about the walk?
“Great idea. Excellent. Great Team Leader who varies the walks and exercises. It is good exercise, and nice to have a social interaction with other members.”
“I look forward to our Wednesday health walks. It gives me the incentive to go out and exercise. I enjoy the company and appreciate the experience and knowledge of our walk leader Blazej who keeps an eye on us all and chats to everyone.”
“Our weekly walks are a great opportunity to get out and walk, meet with others and enjoy the chat. I feel in safe hands with Blazej who leads the walks.”
What would your message be to other groups across the country who are considering starting a walking group?
Don’t be afraid to do it. Health walks are safe and are helping people with mental and physical health issues. They also help people keep fit or get back to a better fitness level.