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Ceredigion resident walks 10,000 steps a day during coronavirus pandemic

A Ceredigion resident has walked 10,000 steps a day during the coronavirus pandemic in order to keep fit and healthy.

Gillian from Llanybydder, who is registered on the NERS (National Exercise Referral Scheme) programme decided to walk 10,000 steps a day in order to keep fit during the coronavirus pandemic. As a member of the West Wales Walking for Wellbeing group, she tells us the benefits of walking on her physical and mental health.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

My name is Gillian and I live with my husband in Drefach, Llanybydder about 4 miles outside Lampeter. I have 3 children and 5 grandchildren. I celebrated my 70th birthday in 2020!

Where do you like to go walking?

I’m lucky that I live on a farm in a rural area with plenty of space and fresh, clean air. I have identified 6 circular routes locally, each one ranging between 4 to 6 miles from my home. I also love to walk the coastal path in Ceredigion, especially from Llangrannog, Aberaeron or New Quay. I usually walk on my own but my husband joins me on Sundays.

How does walking make you feel?

I enjoy being outdoors, observing the changes in the landscape during the four seasons. It gives me time to unwind and concentrate on positive thoughts and sort out any frustrations or stressful situations. Walking is a physical exercise and I found that I slept so much better after completing my daily regime. It improves my physical and my mental wellbeing.

How has walking helped you deal with the current pandemic?

The easiest exercise for me would be walking. I’d had a Fitbit watch for Christmas from the family, so I decided that I would attempt to walk 10,000 steps daily. The Ceredigion Actif NERS staff also arranged indoor exercises for us if the weather was too atrocious to complete our walks. I bought an exercise bike on Lampeter swap-shop to use when I could not compete my daily target of walking outdoors!

Most of us expected that the pandemic would have been over within a few months. But after walking for a full 12 months I have managed to average at least 10,000 steps every day and totalled nearly 4 million steps – which equates in my case to about 1,750 miles. I can hardly believe the figures!

Motivation came from many directions especially the virtual journeys planned by the Ceredigion Actif NERS staff. We “travelled” around UK’s coastline; the North Pole; the Great Wall of China; followed the river Nile in Africa and we are now travelling in Australia. I felt that I needed to be a good team-player and felt proud when I presented my total step-counts on a weekly basis to the staff.

Amidst so much unhappiness and tragedies that the pandemic produced world-wide, it felt good to accomplish goals on a personal level and improving my health – both physically and emotionally.

Any tips you can offer for motivating people to go out walking when you feel like staying in and putting the kettle on instead?

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Set realistic goals and listen to your body. If you are unable to complete your expectations today, there is always tomorrow.

Reaching realistic goals is very fulfilling. Praise yourself and tell members of the family or friends that you are proud of your accomplishment. It is important to be kind to yourself and it also creates a “feel good factor”.

Walking strengthens the muscles in the body and keeps your joints flexible. I have a good appetite and, like many others, have been busy trying out new recipes over the pandemic. Walking is an exercise that helps with weight reduction. I have heart problems and found that walking in a rural setting is relaxing and helps with reducing my blood-pressure.

Some people listen to music when the go walking, others listen to the sounds of Mother Nature and others enjoy a chat with neighbours over the garden wall. Do whatever makes you happy. If you enjoy yourself, you are more likely to persevere and succeed. You can still enjoy that cuppa as a reward when you return home after completing your walk!  

To find out more about West Wales Walking for Wellbeing visit: www.westwaleswalkingforwellbeing.org.uk

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