Saturday 20 July 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly: 'Feel the long-term benefits of walking back to happiness'

The health benefits of walking include better energy and fitness levels and sleeping better
The health benefits of walking include better energy and fitness levels and sleeping better

I swear I'm not going to talk about 100 days of walking for 100 days! But I am going to talk about it a bit more - in an attempt to harness that latent 'new year, new you' feeling that I suspect some of you are still feeling but haven't acted upon yet. If you haven't heard about #100daysofwalking, basically it's a commitment I made on January 1 that I'd walk everyday, for 30 minutes, in all weather, until April 10.

You can do more than 30 minutes, obviously, but that's the minimum. Today is day 20, so a fifth is in the bag already. But tomorrow's day 21 and that's special.

Three weeks is an important milestone for change, because, if you stick with something for three weeks, it's long enough for you to miss it if you stop. So, after three weeks, it becomes harder to not do - than to do it! And that means you have formed a habit.

Habits are key - because they're hard to break. That's a problem if you have bad habits. But good ones are hard to break, too. Which means, after tomorrow, you will have a genuine urge to go out and walk.

What has really changed for me is, I no longer look at my days and think I've a bit of spare time, so I might go for a walk. I now factor the walk into my day from the beginning.

I now make time to walk - it's a priority in the same way as going to a meeting would be. I literally give it a time slot every day.

And I'm feeling the benefits. Even parking all the long-term health benefits, some immediate pluses are; I'm sleeping better. My energy and fitness have noticeably improved. My mood's gone up and my anxiety's gone down. The Christmas pounds have miraculously gone. My ass is no longer stiff after walking - which I'm hoping translates into it being toned.And the magic benefit - is doing this puts health on my agenda. So the walking motivates me to eat and drink mindfully - because I don't want to waste the good work I'm doing by walking. But it's essentially keeping me on track.

And the reason I'm telling you this isn't just smugness. No, it's because it isn't too late for you to join in and embrace this one small change that can actually make a big difference, yourselves. Yes, my #100daysofwalking ends on April 10 but if you start it today - all that means is that yours will end on April 30 - but will feel just as good. There simply isn't any good reason not to.

Did I mention that it's free and that you don't have to subscribe to anything? Although you can register on Newstalk.com and see photos of people around the country who are taking part.

But the thing I like best about it, really, is there are so few obstacles to just doing it. No specific place you have to go - like a gym. No specific equipment, apart from comfy footwear. No special clothes. No shower facilities. The minute you open your front door, and step outside, you've already started. I will badger you about it one last time next week and after that you can plough your own 2019. But think about it - you can do it for the endorphins alone!

@ciarakellydoc Ciara presents 'Lunchtime Live' weekdays on Newstalk 12-2

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