From small steps, we can all feel a big change in our lives. One lady from West Sussex turned her health around when she started walking. Here's her story...
Lynne McDonald had suffered a breakdown and was living with depression, diabetes, carpal tunnel and asthma. She was overweight and unhappy; with how she looked and the effect her weight was having on her health.
On receiving a leaflet from Living Streets, as part of the Walking Works programme, about the benefits of walking, the 54 year old began taking small steps.
She says: "It's very relaxing walking in nature, breathing fresh air and a chance to get out of the office and away from work issues, even for 30 minutes.
“I did speed walks around the park, gradually building up distance and speed. It really helped my breathing and improved my lung capacity, so I didn’t have to use my inhaler as often. It helped my mental health as I was outside enjoying nature and giving myself the break away to de-stress.”
As Lynne got fitter, healthier and started losing weight, she felt motivated to take on more exercise and make other healthy changes to her lifestyle.
She says: “Walking helps in so many ways and when you are overweight you don’t have the energy to do the exercise that is needed to help you get healthier, so walking is a great option as you can build up your distance and speed over time.”
From walking small steps, Lynne has taken strides to bigger things. She now regularly cycles and through this, walking and a calorie-controlled diet, she has lost 8st 9lbs in 18 months and has gone from a size 20–22 to a 10. She is now classed as a non-diabetic.
She continues, “The charity shops have benefited from me needing a new wardrobe! I not only feel so much healthier, I’m fitter and have way more energy; it has turned around my diabetes. My figures have improved so much that I’m being taken off metformin and I’ve been taken off statins, as my cholesterol is so low. One of the biggest benefits is to my mental health, as being fitter and healthier has helped me not only in body, but in mind. We have so much thrown at us each day to deal with, we have stressful lives, and when you have the chance to turn your health around and get out in nature to benefit mindfully, it makes you stronger.
Lynne works for Sussex Community NHS Foundation. Her workplace signed up to Living Streets' Walking Works programme which includes led walks and sessions which encourage individuals to add more walking into, and around, their working lives.
Lynne took part in led walks hosted by Living Streets' Project Coordinator, Janey Bray. She said:
"I really enjoyed the walk, I have taken walks in Goffs Park so many times but I really felt like I actually saw it this time. I took in so much that I never realised was there, so thank you for opening my eyes to them. I came back to work very relaxed and energised for the rest of the day."
“If I can do it, everyone can. Give it a go and see what you can achieve. It’s you and nature, no class or teacher checking if you are improving, you do it at your pace.”