Healthcare Professionals

Refer your patients to our structured and supportive program that complements your care.

Walking for an average of 30 minutes or more a day can lower the risk of heart disease and strokes by 30% percent, and Type 2 diabetes by 40%.

 

To help more Australians walk towards better health, we encourage all health professionals and workers to refer patients and clients to Heart Foundation Walking.

 

Why refer to Heart Foundation Walking? 

  • Australia’s largest FREE walking program with walkers across metro, regional and rural areas.
  • Available to anyone in Australia who wants to enjoy the physical, mental and social health benefits of walking.
  • Developed by experts, the program offers peer and motivational support and can help your patients understand the benefits of walking and meet the Australian physical activity guidelines
  • Heart Foundation Walking is an opportunity for social prescribing - a holistic approach to healthcare, where individuals (patients) are linked with community services, supporting them to take greater control of their own health and well-being

Which program is right for your patient? 

Walking groups 

Established in 1995, Heart Foundation Walking groups are a social, supportive and simple way to start walking and stay walking.

  • 600+ groups across Australia ranging in size, walk frequency and routes to cater to a range of needs and abilities. 
  • Suitable for patients who would benefit from accountabilitysafety in numbers and social interaction that can help increase enjoyment and reduce feelings of loneliness.
  • For extra motivation, participants can join the incentive-based Walker Recognition program which celebrates an individual’s walking milestones.
  • Groups can be made private and/or tailored to community members e.g. people living with a particular health condition, the over 60s, or cultural groups.

"Heart Foundation Walking got me off the couch and out of the house. I enjoy the people I meet every week and creating friendships. I like walking as it is a great stress reliever.” – group walker

 

Walking groups are led by volunteer Walk Organisers who welcome new members and guide the walk route, duration and intensity. Walk Organisers receive training, support and insurance from the Heart Foundation

 

Find a group

 

If you’d like to further support your patients, clients or community, you can become a Local Coordinator and start your own group.

Personal Walking Plans 

Developed by exercise and behaviour change experts, the six-week Personal Walking Plans are tailored to your patient’s ability, ideal for those preferring to walk their own way, at their own pace – any time, any place.

Personal Walking Plans

  • are easy to set up, packed with advice your patients can trust, and delivered straight to their email and mobile.
  • include easy-to-follow instructions, stretching and strength exercise videos, plus reminders and support to kickstart a regular walking habit.
  • will support your patients to achieve the national physical activity guidelines after six weeks. 
  • complement joining a walking group for additional motivational support.

99% of participants reported that they will continue regular walking or physical activity on their own after completing their 6-week plan.*

*Source: 2021 Personal Walking Plan participant survey n=2,338

 

 

Personal Walking Plans

How to refer to Heart Foundation Walking 

Contact walking@heartfoundation.org.au for more information and support. 

FAQs 

Why should I refer my patients to Heart Foundation Walking?

Established in 1995, Heart Foundation Walking is a trusted national walking program developed and managed by experts in public health and physical activity. The program is entirely free and offers community and motivational support. Participants find our program safe, supportive, and enjoyable. 

 

Who can refer to Heart Foundation Walking?

Any healthcare professional or health worker can refer to Heart Foundation Walking. Patients are also able to self-refer.

 

Who can I refer to Heart Foundation Walking?

You can refer any of your patients to Heart Foundation Walking, or even join yourself! Heart Foundation Walking is open to anyone living in Australia who wants to increase their physical activity levels. People living with a pre-existing health condition should receive clearance from a health professional before starting. 

 

Can a child participate in Heart Foundation Walking?

Yes, people under 18 are welcome to join a walking group but must be accompanied by an adult. 

 

Do my patients need medical clearance before participating in HFW?

People living with a medical condition are required to seek medical clearance before participating in a Personal Walking Plan. To join a Walking Group people must sign a disclaimer stating they are well enough to participate. All people who participate in Heart Foundation Walking are doing so at their own risk. 

 

Can patients who have had a cardiac event attend a walking group or complete a Personal Walking Plan?

Yes. If their condition is stable and they have been cleared to participate in regular, gentle exercise, they can commence walking.  

 

Can I refer a patient with other health conditions such as diabetes, COPD, cancer, Parkinson’s, back pain etc to Heart Foundation Walking?

Yes. Physical activity is an important part of the long-term management of chronic health conditions.  Please make sure your patients have received specialist advice about exercising with their condition and know what it means to exercise safely. Walk organisers can’t offer medical advice or be responsible for their management. There are some Heart Foundation Walking groups for people living with specific health needs listed in the walking group page. 

 

How do I set up a Walking Group for my patients or clients?

If you would like to establish a walking group at your practice, clinic or other place of work you can do so by completing this online form.

 

How much does it cost to set up a Walking Group at my practice?

It’s FREE. All it takes is a dedicated person (Walk Organiser) to lead each walk. A Walk Organiser could be you, a fellow staff member or even one of your patients or clients. Once the Walk Organiser has decided on a day, time and location, the Heart Foundation Walking team will list your Walking group on the Heart Foundation website. 

 

What are the benefits of starting a walking group for my patients?

Setting up a walking group at your practice, clinic or place of work allows you to form genuine connections within your community, build social connection and trust whilst supporting community members to lead a more active lifestyle. 

 

What training does a Walk Organiser have?

Walk Organisers are Heart Foundation volunteers. The Heart Foundation provides online training to Walk Organisers when they register to help them organise and promote their walking groups. They are not qualified health professionals. 

 

Why should my patient join Heart Foundation Walking over another program?

Since 1995, Heart Foundation Walking has supported people across Australia start walking and stay walking. Managed by experts in public health and physical activity, Heart Foundation Walking is safe, supportive and caters to your patients’ abilities.  Participants can walk with others, or on their own, at their own pace – any time, any place! The program is free and enjoyable, with no special equipment required.