Stepping up for the benefits of walking in fresh air

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Infographic courtesy of Paths for All

People across Scotland are being inspired to put a spring in their step during May to help celebrate National Walking Month and reap the benefits of active travel.

A wide range of organisations are championing the annual event which is aimed at promoting the benefits of walking for physical health, mental wellbeing, and enjoying the fresh air outdoors.

As well as encouraging people to ‘walk everyday this May’, Scottish charity Paths for All is running a Spring Step Count Challenge for workplaces, which runs to June 25.

Set up in 1996 to support everyday walking for a happier, healthier and greener Scotland, the charity hopes people at work will take up the walking challenge to help boost productivity, feel good or just have fun.

Primary school pupils are being encouraged to walk or wheel to school as part of Living Streets’ annual campaign. Last year, over 750 schools participated. The walking charity, which wants to remove barriers to active travel, is running a number of initiatives.

One calls on parents to swap the school run with a walk or to try and park away from the school to reduce congestion and air pollution at the school gates and improve road safety.

Established more than 90 years ago, Living Streets’ vision is for a society where every child who can, walks to and from school on safe, unpolluted and enjoyable streets. The charity reports that: 1

  • One in five cars taking children to school during morning peak times is contributing to air pollution, carbon emissions and congestion.
  • The school run alone is responsible for generating half-a-million tonnes of CO2 per year – more than that of some small countries.

Improving air quality to help protect public health is the over-arching aim of Scotland’s Low Emission Zones (LEZs) which restrict access on certain city centre roads to the most polluting vehicles.

Enforcement of Glasgow’s LEZ starts on 1 June 2023 with people being urged to make sure they are prepared and that their vehicles are compliant. When a non-compliant vehicle is driven in the zone, the owner of that vehicle will receive a Penalty Charge Notice.

You can check if your vehicle meets LEZ standards here:

LEZs are also in place for Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh. Enforcement of Dundee’s LEZ will start on 30 May 2024 while Aberdeen and Edinburgh will begin enforcing their LEZs from 1 June 2024.

Through setting minimum emission standards for vehicles that drive within an LEZ zone, LEZs also support the need to switch to more sustainable modes of transport. They encourage walking, wheeling and cycling or using public transport as alternatives to taking the car.

Find out more about Scotland’s LEZs here

More information about Paths for All’s Walk Everyday this May and Spring Step Count Challenge is available here:

Further details about Living Street’s Walk to School campaign can be found here: