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In my six years of running Nordic walking classes, I cannot remember a day like yesterday.  Heavy rain driven virtually horizontally towards us by gusts of close to gale force winds and usually well-drained ground utterly sodden. I was in awe of your determination not to be defeated by the elements and seriously impressed how many of you turned out.  It was a powerfully bonding experience and one that I think we will long remember.  We’ve now coined the phrase #RainWarriers for future ultra wet walks!

I was particularly struck by the excellence of everyone’s technique. True, we couldn’t swing the pole through behind us and release – that would have been foolhardy – but the inclement weather sharpened our focus and we positively stormed (pun intended) along the pavements and metaled paths criss-crossing the Downs and to the Observatory.  All the while a rhyme from years ago played in my head – it may be one you remember too:

Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

Talking of weathering storms, last Thursday was World Cancer Day and, to mark it, the Bristol Post printed an article about Michelle Devitt who has battled two cancer diagnoses in the last few years.  I met Michelle shortly after her first operation, when she came to the cancer specific Nordic walking session we run at Penny Brohn Cancer Care.  The Tuesday afternoon classes were profoundly important to her during that time. In the article she calls Nordic walking an anti-depressant and we certainly had a lot of laughs during those walks and formed some deep friendships.

Walking, and Nordic walking in particular, is in my view the best possible exercise for someone with a cancer diagnosis.  The poles provide physical support, making it easier to fight fatigue and get outside.  The technical requirements of Nordic walking are a great distraction from all the worries connected with cancer treatment.  The support given, and graciously accepted within the group was extraordinary and utterly life-affirming.  The postural, circulatory, lymph drainage, core strength, balance enhancement, muscle building, weight bearing, endorphin releasing and general feeling of empowerment all combined are second to none. 

We still run a Tuesday afternoon Nordic walking class from Penny Brohn and I would highly recommend you read the Bristol Post article to get a feel for the amazing service Penny Brohn is able to offer those with cancer and their supporters.

I want to finish with a reference to an interesting review of fitness trackers, which Karen White, one of our walkers, kindly drew my attention to.  As you may recall, I wrote a blog about fitness trackers a while ago and wore the Fitbit Charge HR for several weeks before consigning it to the drawer – I was worried I was becoming obsessive about step counts and mileage!  There was always a bit of a niggle at the back of my mind about the accuracy or the Charge HR and this review sheds some worthwhile light on the efficacy of some of the best known fitness trackers. It seems my doubts weren’t unfounded.

Further gales are forecast for this week – so keep an eye on your emails and text messages for updates.  We love walking but our first priority is to keep everyone safe!