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Walking Back to Happiness

Jo Turner

16 Jul 2020

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During lockdown I was furloughed, and my husband John had to work from home. We decided to use the time it usually took us to commute to walk. We’d never really walked as a form of exercise before...we’d never really taken any form of exercise before, so this was something new.

We worked out a route and as we were used to getting up at 6am to travel to our respective jobs and we decided that staying in that routine seemed sensible so we wouldn’t be too out of sync on our return to work.
Walking trims your waistline - Both John and I had the start of middle age spread. Over ten weeks I’ve dropped a dress size and John has discovered he’s wearing the trousers that prior to lockdown he’d been considering donating to charity.
Walking relieves arthritis pain - After four weeks John noticed that his arthritis pain seemed less. This seemed counter-intuitive so I consulted the arthritis society website and discovered that walking is recommended because it does indeed help reduce inflammation and stiffness in your joints. The important thing to remember is to walk ‘correctly’. Hold your head up; keep your neck, shoulders and back relaxed; swing your arms naturally, with a slightly bent elbow; tighten your stomach muscles a little to give yourself a supported core, and breathe deeply as you walk.
Walking improves your mental wellbeing - At the start of lockdown I think we both felt really anxious about all the uncertainty. As the weeks progressed, while we walked awe discussed our worries and thrashed out solutions to some of the problems we faced or might face. I certainly began to feel in a better place mentally and as though I could cope better with life in general.
Walking reduces blood pressure - Johns blood pressure had been sneaking upwards and just before lockdown our GP had been monitoring it with a view to him starting blood pressure medication. When it became clear that he wasn’t going to be examined by a doctor for some time I was concerned enough to buy a home blood pressure monitor online. We tested it out to make sure the readings matched those of the clinic then forgot about it! After six weeks (on the date he was supposed to have been returning the GP) we tried it and discovered his blood pressure was just within normal range. By week ten it was well within the normal range. Mine too has dropped significantly.
Crucially throughout this period neither of us has felt like we were ‘exercising’. Walking felt natural and easy. I know this article is anecdotal and personal but there is plenty of research to support exercise being almost as important as diet in controlling type-2 diabetes; that it helps with balance and co-ordination and so helps to prevent falls in older people, meaning they are more likely to stay out of hospital, which at the moment is even more important than usual, and finally that it helps boost the immune system which is important for obvious reasons right now.
We will definitely continue to fit walking into our day even when life returns to a more normal pattern.

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