Media Release: Twenty years of promoting physical activity across Scotland


PATHS for All, which is a key delivery partner of the Scottish Government’s National Walking Strategy, today celebrated 20 years of promoting physical activity across Scotland at an event attended by the Minister for Public Health & Sport, Aileen Campbell.

The Minister said: “I’d like to wish Paths for All a very happy 20th birthday and congratulate them on reaching this landmark.

“Our latest Scottish Household Survey statistics show that more people year after year are walking recreationally – up to 69 per cent this year – and Paths for All have played their part in making this happen. I’m sure they will continue their valuable work to get Scotland moving for years to come.”

The event incorporated the organisation’s annual Expert Lecture, which this year included two key note speakers – Ann Gates, CEO, Exercise Works! as well as Professor Rich Mitchell who is a Paths for All board member and Professor of Health and Environment, University of Glasgow.

Ann Gates, who has over 30 years of experience as a health care professional and who aims to ‘get every patient accessing and enjoying exercise’, highlighted the need for better communities of practice in regards to physical activity and health generally.

Her keynote speech, ‘Path [ways] for all’ introduced the concept of developing a community of practice approach to encouraging physical activity by outlining the possibilities that the physical activity community must reflect on in order to build a workforce capacity that can implement cultural and sustainable results.

Ann Gates said: “Insufficient physical activity is one of the ten leading risk factors for death worldwide, so exercise professionals and physical activity advocates have much work to do.

“It is therefore important to point towards a strategic plan which responds to the clear limitations of the current multiagency infrastructure for physical activity and that it takes into account how stakeholders can meet the calls of existing collaborative plans by working specifically as a community of practice.”

Meanwhile, Professor Rich Mitchell, who is best known his research on the ways in which green spaces can help people stay healthy and how the places we live might help or hinder physical activity focussed his keynote speech on  ‘What you walk through and walk on – nature, health and Paths for All’ which looked at the holistic approach to walking and physical activity and how the work of Paths for All encompasses all of these aspects through its Active Environment, Walking for Health and Active Travel projects.

The event also featured the Paths for All Volunteer Awards which celebrated the work undertaken by the organisation’s 8,000-plus volunteers who lead Health Walks and take part in community path projects throughout Scotland.

Chief officer, Paths for All, Ian Findlay, said: “Over the past 20 years, Paths for All has developed into a multifunctional organisation working in partnership with a wide range of organisations and individuals from national to community level.

“Over the years, we have focussed on helping people to get out and enjoy their local environment through welcoming and safe multi-use path networks, supporting community and workplace walking and promoting active travel.

“We have played key roles in the input and development of key legislation introduced by the Scottish Parliament throughout the past two decades.

“However, our biggest achievement has been the tremendous volunteer base of approximately 8,000 volunteers that we have built throughout all Scottish communities.

“Without these volunteers, and our local delivery partners, it would have been impossible to rollout our health walks, community paths projects and Walk at Work activities which is why it was so important to recognise those volunteers at the 20th birthday celebratory event today.”


For further information from Paths for Al,l please contact Caroline Weintz (communications manager) on 07590 350 390 or at

Notes to editors:

About the Paths for All

Paths for All is supported by the Scottish Government to promote physical activity and walking for health in Scotland and is a key delivery partner for the Scottish Government’s National Walking Strategy and the Active Scotland Outcomes Framework.

Paths for All champions everyday walking in Scotland and we want to get more people walking – everyone, everywhere and every day.

Paths for All aims to significantly increase the number of people who choose to walk in Scotland – whether that’s leisure walking or active-choice walking to work, school or shops. We want to create a happier, healthier Scotland, where increased physical activity improves quality of life and wellbeing for all.

We work to create more opportunities and better environments not just for walking, but also for cycling and other activities, to help make Scotland a more active, more prosperous, greener country through Active Travel initiatives.

Read more at:

Prof Rich Mitchell

* Prior to joining Glasgow, Prof Mitchell was associate director of the Research Unit in Health, Behaviour and Change at the University of Edinburgh Medical School.

* Earlier in his career he focused on monitoring and exploring socio-economic and geographic inequalities in health and how they might be narrowed. Today, his focus is on the potential for different aspects of environment to positively influence population health and reduce health inequalities. He has a particular interest in natural environments such as urban woodlands and parks.

* Co-director of the Centre for Research on Environment, Society and Health, an interdisciplinary and inter-institute centre, focused on exploring how physical and social environments can influence population health, for better and for worse.

Ann Gates BPharm (Hons) MRPharmS

* Co-founder and CEO of Exercise Works! which is an organisation that provides a range of bespoke services that can be tailored to fit specific requirements of supporting health professionals to help patients consider exercise as a ‘medicine’ in its own right. More information at .

* Associate editor for The British Journal of Sports Medicine

* World Heart Federation Emerging Leader’s Programme 2014-2017

* In her keynote speech, Ann Gates referred to her co-authored article, Movement for Movement: exercise as everyone’s business’, which appears in the British Journal of Sports Medicine and references two infographics which provide a clear pathway vision for Movement for Movement through community practice.

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Paths for All contact details…

Contact: Caroline Weintz
Phone: 07590350390