Enjoy your freedom!
Fitting a walk or other lower level activity into your day-to-day life can make a major contribution to keeping you well and reducing your risk of the common chronic illnesses that affect people on our Island, such as type-two diabetes, heart attacks, strokes and the majority of cancers.
Research was published in 2018 of the strongest kind of public health evidence – which is done with a large number of people over a large number of years. This showed that:
Half an hour a day of moderate activity can reduce the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 24%. That means you can cut your risk of having a heart attack or stroke by a quarter by doing half an hour of lower-level activity a day.
The World Health Organisation describes ‘insufficient physical activity’ as people who do less than 30 minutes moderate activity at least five days a week (or an hour and 15 mins once a week) and identifies these people as at higher risk of chronic conditions and serious ill health.
Step On It, St Helena!
“You don’t have to do a lot of ‘activity’ to get the benefits”
This is for everyone who wants to keep themselves and their families well (and reducing their risk of developing a chronic condition).Though if you have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or type-two diabetes then doing a bit of moderate activity, like a walk, can play a major role in preventing these developing and causing further serious problems and disability. And if you really move on it you can lower your blood pressure, cholesterol, and improve the way your body manages sugar.
On St Helena, as in many countries around the world, car and bus travel has become usual even for short journeys. Combined with this is the time many people spend sitting at work or at home with computers, TV, tablets and phones. Modern lifestyles, family and work commitments are the things that people often find get in the way of being a bit more physically active.
The good news is that you don’t need a huge amount of activity to make a difference. There are ways you might fit it in round your other commitments. Half an hour five days a week could mean:
- Getting off the bus earlier and walking the rest of the way
- Parking a bit further away and walking the rest of the way (you might find a parking place easier too!)
- Taking a short walk at lunchtime instead of staying at your desk
- Walking to the local shop if you don’t need a huge load
- Walking the kids to their friends’ houses or to events if they are within your area
- Fitting in a short walk with the whole family for a picnic, visit or other outing at a weekend
‘EASY TO FIT IN’ WALK ROUTES
For many people it isn’t that they don’t want to do something – the problem is fitting it around work, family life and other commitments.
- A series of shorter, easier walks have been identified in each District. Pick a route that suits you near home or near where you work.
- At your own pace – all are chosen to take about half an hour or less if you were doing a ‘medium’ pace. Adapt them if you need a shorter or longer version
- Basic Route Maps are available from the Public Library in Jamestown.
- The routes listed include roads, so keep in to the verge, face traffic, and wear something to be visible.
Here are two example of how walking can change your life, for the better of course!
Graham Sim – “I just do things I enjoy doing, and keeping well means I can make the most of life.”
“I suffered from asthma as a child and could not comfortably participate in such activities as running or playing football, but this did not stop me from playing outdoors as much as possible. At the time we walked to and from school, no matter where we lived on the Island, so we were very active.
“As a young man working in Jamestown, I regularly swam with friends, for almost the whole lunch hour. The thought of doing this for health reasons did not occur. It was fun. I just loved what I was doing.
“Apart from walking/running, I have always done a lot of water sports since my mid-teens. It was just enjoyable and very social. We all did lots of active things like walks, swimming, water skiing, snorkelling and sailing. It was something we enjoyed doing together.
“One of the favourites was camping/picnicking at Lemon Valley where everyone would spend much of the day enjoying various in water activities. I do know that compared to present times, there were less distractions then – there wasn’t any TV etc.
“My approach to health – I now feel that all of the things I enjoyed doing have been good for me. I’ve just done the things I wanted and have enjoyed and these are the things that help keep people well.
“I’ve always enjoyed all sorts of activities and when I retired I had new things I wanted to do. I started walking more – to explore and see more of the Island. After some time there was a day when I felt the urge to run – I hadn’t run before then so i just started running. I gradually built up endurance. I can now run distances I couldn’t when I was younger. I just do it because I enjoy it.
“Sometimes people say to me, “I’d like to be like you” and I say just do things gradually, build up – you’ll be amazed in a short time at what you can do compared to when you first start. For someone just wanting to get more active, I’d say find a friend and just do some short walks as you’ll soon find you have the desire and ability to go further.
“What motivates me? Well I just do things I enjoy doing and keeping well means I can make the most of life. The other big thing is family. I always have wanted to help myself be healthy and stay healthy for my family.”
‘Island Lady’ – “It’s about a way of living your life”
“A year ago one Island lady decided she wanted to make some changes to improve her health and wellbeing. She made some changes to her diet, and also started fitting some activity around day-to-day life. A year on, she explains why she made some changes, what she did, and the results.
“I started walking for exercise. I didn’t before, but now I love walking. I started getting off the bus a bit earlier. At first the walk home took me half an hour and now it takes 20 minutes. I feel when I walk like I have a lot more energy and feel more active. On days if I don’t I feel sluggish and much better if I get out.
“I started having a half hour walk on a Saturday too and a friend found out and asked if they could join me, and we started doing a Sunday too. I stopped for a while due to circumstances, but am now enjoying my walking again. The friend and I even got our husbands sometimes walking with us at weekends.
“Within six months of the new way of eating and being more active, quite a change had happened and people started noticing a big difference. I lost weight and dropped a couple of clothes sizes. The big thing is I feel much better. I now wear things that I hadn’t done for years. It feels good.
Some people say, “You should do this, you should do that”. From my own experience I think that everyone has got their own way they need to do things and make changes. You’ve got to find your own reason and way that suits you and do that.”