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What a difference a week makes.  Last week I was writing about how to cope with the exceptionally wet, muddy conditions.  This week it’s been mostly dry, crisp and cold – firm underfoot and even sunny!  Until, that is, today, when the gloom descended and our fabulous Crooks Peak walk turned into a cloud walk.  It was certainly atmospheric but we could barely see the person in front of us, let alone a view.  Ah, the vagaries of the British weather.

One of the great things about something like Nordic walking is that you get to see all the twists and turns of the weather (good and bad!).  You’re out and about in it, connected to what’s going on in nature.  Walking on cold, wet days gives you a sense of achievement – and makes walking on a beautiful day all the more glorious and special.  Tomorrow is Blue Monday, supposedly the most depressing day of the year due to the combination of debt, lack of light, low motivation and loneliness.  We’re heading down to the Galleries in Broadmead to support the Citizens Advice Bureau’s Blue Monday event and manning a Nordic walking stand to show people what’s on offer if they want to get fit and get outdoors.  I was therefore interested to read The Telegraph’s five tips on how to beat Blue Monday – capitalise on light; take aerobic exercise; smile; be grateful; and practice altruism.  A sociable, outdoor, aerobic activity like Nordic walking ticks all these boxes (especially if you buy someone a coffee afterwards!).  As for ‘gratitude’?  Well, I think all those of us on today’s walk were grateful to get our muddy boots off and get into the warmth of the pub!

One other piece of news from last week that might interest you was yet another study endorsing the benefits of walking.  The Australian research, led by Daniel Steffens of Sydney University, was concerned with a very common – and often debilitating – health problem, lower back pain.  Apparently seven in ten of us have suffered recurring neck or back twinges for more than a decade.  The study suggested that exercise, coupled with understanding risk factors, can eliminate the need for painkillers, back braces and shoe inserts.  Walking is a particularly good form of exercise because it is less likely to damage the joints than other activities and helps maintain bone density.  Those of us that Nordic walk know all this – we’ve been the beneficiaries of walking’s health benefits.  It’s just nice when others recognise it too.

Next Saturday I’m running the first of our new 2 hour stamina building walks. I won’t be promising beautiful views but I can promise you a good walk. Plus did you see that we have a new walk starting in the delightful Oldbury Court at the beginning of February? This is with our new instructor Clair Cusack, who has a wealth of fitness knowledge and bags of energy, so why not book onto it and try it out?