Date: 8 November 2017
Community pharmacies increasingly are joining the Heart Foundation Walking program as a means to increase community health while boosting engagement with their customers.
Heart Foundation Walking (HFW) is Australia’s largest free walking program. With 1195 walking groups around the country, the program offers a fun, social and accessible way for people to start exercising regularly and be healthier.
Under the program, the Heart Foundation helps local organisations to set up walking groups in their area. The foundation then helps to train and support those local organisations to keep their walking groups organised and motivated. It’s a successful model which gives the local organiser a valuable place in the community, and walkers motivated to come back every week.
In recent years, more pharmacies are joining the program, finding it a great way to enhance their role in local primary care and chronic condition management. Hosting a walking group is an innovative way to help your customers achieve better health outcomes and increase their engagement with your business.
The program has many benefits to consumers, the community and to the pharmacy. A pharmacy-based HFW group may be the only walking group option within a community, making physical activity more available to residents.
Additionally, with a pharmacist or pharmacy assistant attending walks, participants benefit from an increased awareness of other health issues and the extensive professional services their local pharmacy provides.
The Pharmacy Guild supports the walking groups and a special page on the Guild’s website is dedicated to showing pharmacies how they can become involved.
To get started, you’ll need to choose your local coordinator, who will be the main contact for the Heart Foundation. You’ll also need to find a Walk Organiser, who could be the pharmacist, pharmacy assistant or a community member.
Once your pharmacy is set up as a walking group, participants will be able to find you using the HFW online search tool and sign up to your walking group directly. HFW can also provide promotional materials to let pharmacy customers know about your walking group when they visit your store. Once your group starts walking, HFW will provide ongoing support, ways to recognise walking achievements, and tips to keep people motivated.