How walking suddenly turned bad for your health…

  • How brave are you when it comes to breakfast?
  • Another misguided piece of journalism
  • The real reasons to enjoy a nice walk

This week I’ve taken my life in my own hands…

Not once, but twice. And there was nothing anyone could do to stop me.

As Lara and the kids tearfully waved me off, I took a deep breath, and bravely entered the kitchen. There, armed with only a knife (all right, and a fork), I faced one of man’s biggest dangers and against all the odds I’ve lived to tell the tale.

Yep four rashers of bacon. Two on Monday and another couple last night.

I reckon I should get my own TV show ‘The World’s Most Dangerous Foods’ or ‘When Breakfasts Attack!’

Next week, I’ll approach a cup of coffee in a sealed room, armed with nothing but a spoon and a small jug of milk.

Now, just in case I’m giving you the wrong idea, I’m not staging some sort of marathon bacon eating protest against all the guff that’s come out of the media about bacon and cancer recently.

No my reasons for eating a bit of bacon are a lot simpler than that. My mate Mick popped over late last Sunday on his way back to London. He’d been in Devon with the family, and had stocked up on some lovely local produce.

And I was lucky enough to get a few treats. Of course, if you believe the press my neighbours should have rushed over to daub the mark of the unclean on my front door.

But to date, I can officially report no ill effects from the bacon.

Of course I’ll keep you fully updated on my condition.

Talking of condition…

Is walking bad for you now?

Okay, the papers haven’t gone as far as to say that you should burn your trainers. And Channel 4 have yet to broadcast a programme linking walking to blindness…

But according to one buried away piece of information I came across, walking may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

A survey by researchers at Brunel and Exeter universities have discovered that 56% of men and 71% of women believe that easygoing exercise such as walking is the best way to improve and maintain a healthy body. And they were concerned that our nation wasn’t doing enough to stay properly fit.

This was just what some of the journalists were looking for – a chance to attack the gentle maxim of a bit of simple exercise being good for you.

So, now the papers are slamming it, saying walking is NOT the answer to good health and you should run everywhere.

Frankly my days of running any distance are somewhere in the past, a brisk walk is about all I care to achieve on a regular basis, but I don’t think the press pack were talking to me, they had something else in mind.

‘Anything for a good headline’ tends to be the motto of the fourth estate.

But rather than taking the headline as the gospel truth you really have to dig a little deeper, because the reality is that it is not what the research is telling us…

Common sense to the rescue once again…

The main concern the researchers voiced was that people were starting to think that any kind of gentle exercise was enough to keep them fit and healthy. So a spot of gardening, or a stroll down to the shops, and voila – you’d be as fit as Paula Radcliffe.

Obviously that won’t happen. And I doubt many people truly believe that waking to the front door to pick up their morning paper constitutes a work out.

In fact, in my opinion the only people who would think a light stroll is enough to keep fit are the people who do no exercise at all.

This reminds me of a documentary I saw, where an obese lady insisted she was getting enough vegetables in her diet by arguing that ‘there’s lettuce and tomato in a quarter pounder isn’t there?’

Obviously that person has a real problem. As does anyone who insists that walking downstairs before sitting in front of the telly counts as exercise.

But to turn that into an argument that walking won’t help to keep you fit and protect your health is rubbish.

In fact, it’s irresponsible. If this message scares an average person into suddenly taking up jogging and busting a lung, that person could suffer joint problems or even heart problems.

So, once again, let’s see what common sense had to say about this…

• Walking IS good for you! Let’s face it, scientists and experts seem to change their minds daily when it comes to what’s best for us, so personally I listen to my body and make sure I work it properly. In my case that means I go for a long walk – maybe 2 miles or so – practically every day. And I go at a pace that has me breathing hard and feeling it in my muscles.

• Don’t turn this into a chore! I incorporate a vigorous walk into my everyday life. Whether I need to go to the shops, am off to see a friend, or just want to get some sun on my face, I leave the car behind and set off. Just dress comfortably, carrying warmer clothing to put on once you’ve reached your destination, and that’s it.

• Get your food right. Before I set out, I always have a banana – no matter what I’ve eaten up to that point. It just gives me that little kick of extra energy I need to move a bit faster.

• Start the day right. I always start the day with a cup of hot water poured over two slices of fresh lemon (and these days I’m sure you always have some fresh lemon in the house, especially since I’ve shown you this – Click here for ‘The Lemon Book’ ). This gets my body ticking over and ready to face the day. Honestly, I can’t big this up enough. Try a cup of hot lemon tea first thing, and see what a difference it makes.

Let’s be honest there are very few of us who will be running marathons on a regular basis, although I do know many folk over the age of fifty are very keen runners and I don’t want to put you off!

For the rest of us mere mortals doing a bit of regular exercise that makes us breathe a bit harder won’t do any harm at all.