I want to start with the launch of ‘One You’ * last week by Public Health England. It’s aim is to raise awareness in the over 40s about the need to prioritise their health now to enjoy a healthy retirement. Many have criticised its ‘patronising’ tone. However, whatever people may say about this latest campaign, the statistics are fascinating. Although overall life expectancy is at record levels, many are spending their retirement living in ill health. Lead a healthy lifestyle (by drinking less, exercising more, eating better and giving up smoking) in middle years and you can double your chances of being healthy when you are 70. Poor lifestyle choices during these years account for around 40% of all deaths in England and cost the NHS more than £11 billion a year.
We all know that exercise is one of the cornerstones of continued health, not just into older age, but throughout our lives. In my view, the key to integrating it into our lives is to find something that we enjoy. I love hearing how thrilled many of you are to have discovered Nordic walking and what a relief it is to know that there’s a total body workout out there comprising both cardio vascular and muscle strengthening elements – no gym in sight. It’s also good news that the profile of Nordic walking is rising. Not just in Bristol, but nationally. This week alone both the BBC and the fitness app Mapmywalk were promoting the benefits of Nordic walking as a way to burn extra calories.
I love the fact that Nordic walking burns calories, tones and strengthens, improves posture and back health. However there’s probably something that I rate even more – how it takes us out into our beautiful countryside. Our regular fitness walks are in stunning locations and I’m regularly saying how lucky I feel to live in a city with such beautiful and accessible public areas. I also enjoy our longer walks and probably the highlight of my week was leading a circular walk from Tintern Abbey through part of the Offa’s Dyke trail. Our Nordic walking poles were invaluable, helping to propel us up the (very) long steady climbs and acting as support along the trickier sections of the route. I don’t think anyone would have wanted to have done that walk without them (particularly the unexpected detour!).