The Big Walk
Anticipation levels are high among South African Physical Activity enthusiasts as we count down to the number days left until the 7th of October when the Department of Sport and Recreation South Africa will host the annual Big walk.
The Big Walk is a global ceremony that takes place annually on the 1st week of October. It has attracted more than fifteen million people around the world.  This campaign was launched in 1991 by The Association for International Sport for All (TAFISA) to promote health through walking. This article highlights those health benefits.
TAFISA is an international NGO that aims to achieve a sustainable active world by empowering people, communities, nations, and organizations to increase participation in sport for all and physical activity worldwide.  You can learn more about TAFISA from their website
Since 2012 our very own Sport and Recreation South Africa (SRSA) aligned to TAFISA and has been hosting the big walk annually on the first Sunday of October. Initially, The Big Walk was exclusively hosted in the city of Tshwane. Three years later (in 2015) SRSA decided to expand the campaign to all provincial capital cities. SRSA aims to use The Big Walk to promote participation in Sport and Recreation and utilize it (participation in sport) as a medium for building a healthy nation.
Since this walk is a Mass Sports Participation event, it has the added benefit of Social integration, bringing together different people from diverse ethnicities and communities.
The walk has 3 categories; 15 km, 10 km and 5 km, which is accommodating to young children and senior citizens. In addition to that, some of the venues listed below will have Aerobics and Recreational workouts. These venues are:
- Port Elizabeth, Motherwell NU2 Stadium
- Bloemfontein, Mangaung Sport Complex
- Pietermaritzburg CBD
- Polokwane, Old Peter Mokaba Rugby Fields
- Kimberly, AR Abaas
- Mmabatho, Mmabatho Stadium
- Cape Town, Khayelitsha: Mandela Park Stadium
The Tshwane Fountains Valley Resort will exclusively have an additional Kiddies Corner, Medal giveaways and an exhibition in addition to what the other venues have. I suppose this is because this venue is presumed to be the national venue.
According to SRSA, All citizens irrespective of their age, gender, religion, and origin are welcomed. Including families and corporates.
Participants need to be aware that that one day of walking, though beneficial to an extent, is not as beneficial as walking regularly. We advise the public to partake in the Big Walk and draw courage to start walking for at least 30 minutes a day.
When you walk you carry your own body weight.  This is a form of weight-bearing exercise.
The health benefits associated with walking are
- Reduced body fat ;
- Prevention or management of various conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes ;
- Strengthening of bones and muscles ;
- Improved mood ;
- Improved balance and coordination .
If you are planning to take up walking as a regular form of physical activity, which we recommend you do. It is worthwhile to familiarize yourself with the recommended technique by Mayo Clinic:
- Your head is up. You’re looking forward, not at the ground ;
- Your neck, shoulders, and back are relaxed, not stiffly upright ;
- You’re swinging your arms freely with a slight bend in your elbows. A little pumping with your arms is OK ;
- Your stomach muscles are slightly tightened and your back is straight, not arched forward or backward ;
- You’re walking smoothly, rolling your foot from heel to toe .
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We hope this article was informative and it has done good work in convincing you to take up walking as a form of regular physical activity. If you will be attending the Big Walk. Please connect with us on social media and share your experience with us. We are interested in what you enjoyed the most and the least. What stood out for you? Do you by chance have suggestions for the organizers?
Lastly, If you found this article Informative, please share it with a using the social media icons at the end of this article and do not forget to follow us on your favorite social media. Until next time, keep moving.
- Sport and Recreation South Africa. The Big Walk. SRSA. [Online] October 03, 2018. https://www.srsa.gov.za/content/big-walk.
- The Association for International Sport for All. About TAFISA. TAFISA INTERNATIONAL SPORT FOR ALL ASSOCIATION. [Online] 2017. [Cited: October 3, 2018.] http://www.tafisa.org/.
- Mayo Clinic Staff. Walking: Trim your waistline, improve your health. Mayoclinic. [Online] March 19, 2016. [Cited: October 03, 2018.] https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/walking/art-20046261.
- Better Health Channel. Walking for good health. Better Health. [Online] June 2015. [Cited: October 03, 2018.] https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/walking-for-good-health.