Tuesday 22 January 2019

Dr Ciara Kelly: 'Why I'm doing the #100daysofwalking challenge'

Two friends go on a winter walk together.
Two friends go on a winter walk together.

Ciara Kelly

2018 has drawn to a close. Truth be told, most years these days, seem to end just as I'm getting used to them! So how was your year? Mine was mostly grand. It was steadier in a way than the previous couple which saw lots of life changes. I moved house in 2016. My mum died, I sold my practice and made a giant career change in 2017. So 2018 being reasonably undramatic was a welcome change.

Oh, it had its ups and its downs. It's had heartache and great joy like any other time but for me it was a year where I was in a holding pattern - mainly trying to get through the Leaving Cert and learn the ropes of broadcasting. On balance, I'll be happy enough to move on from it into what will hopefully be a better phase of growth - rather than just treading water - in 2019.

Which reminds me of what I wanted to talk to you about. I do like to have goals and hit the ground running so to speak. So I think getting off to a good start in 2019 is half the battle. So on that note I'd like to invite you all once more this year to take part in one hundred days of walking! #100daysofwalking

I started this on January 1 this year and the plan was I would walk for at least 30 minutes, every day rain, hail or shine - unless I was hospitalised. Which in fairness teaches me to tempt fate, because back in March I was.

Which kind of put an end to it for me as I was out of action for quite a bit. Although lots of other people who joined me on my journey kept it up until day 100 and beyond.

However, I'm hoping lightning won't strike me twice. And I found it was an absolutely brilliant thing to do for both mind and body.

When I was in the swing of it (I got to day 70-something before falling off the wagon hospital wise) I really did feel the better for it.

Walking has so many benefits for the walker. You get time out from your day. Time to think. Time alone with yourself or your music/audio book/podcast. Or time with your pals you walk with. You get fresh air. You improve your mood, your concentration, your energy levels, your stress levels, your blood pressure, your sleep, your cardiovascular health, your respiratory health, your bone strength, your fitness, your muscle tone, your weight management. I could probably go on but you get the general idea.

What's more, it's free. You don't need a membership or a subscription to take part. You don't need any fancy equipment and you don't need to go anywhere to join in. Put on a pair of runners or comfy shoes and the minute you step outside your door you're already doing it.

You can walk irrespective of fitness levels, age or weight. You can go at your own pace and at a time that suits.

And, like everything else in life, once you've started factoring that 30 minutes a day into your normal routine, it will become habit. So if you do it every day, within even a week or two you'll be itching to get out and stretch your legs and you'll miss it if you're laid up for some reason and can't go out.

The deal is this; day one is January 1. YES IT IS! Irrespective of New Year's Eve festivities, you can drag yourself out for 30 minutes! And if you manage to do the 100 in a row without missing a day, we will all be patting ourselves on the back on April 10.

But the real deal is this; if you do manage to do 100 days of walking in a row, the chances are you will never look back. It will become a feature of your day and of your life. It will move to 100 months of walking - roughly a lifetime!

You will burn around 100 calories a day doing even non-strenuous walking for a half an hour so even if you don't change one other thing and just do this, you will lose almost a stone over the year with minimal effort.

So come on, let's get 2019 off to a really good start. Tuesday is day one. Post your daily photos to social media using the #100daysofwalking and spread the word! Shake a leg and let's make 2019 the year that sorts us out.

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

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