They blame lazy lifestyles and the lack of exercise for shorter lives.
The Cambridge University study of 334,000 people found even a modest amount of activity prolonged life. And the least fit had the most to gain.
I come into the least fit category, left disabled after a hip operation went wrong. Doctors ordered a special hip with a metal shaft to insert into the femur after it shattered in 2002. The inner support is held in place with bolts and twists of wire. After the operation, I was reasonably fit and continued working on my feet for 8 hours a day. However, since retirement, my walking ability has deteriorated.
I decided to do something about it. Yesterday, I took my first organized walk. I live in Elstree, Hertsmere, UK. If you live in England, you should be able to find a scheme near you. Here's the one I joined:
The Hertsmere Health Walks is part of a countywide programme of free, volunteer - led walks, which aims to help people get outdoors, get more active and reap the benefits. The walks are all sociable and you don't need any special equipment to join in, just comfortable shoes. The free programme runs all year round and offers choice of different walk grades, start points and times. Source: Hertsmere Health Walks: Walking for Health.
“Do you stop walking in winter?” I asked, during out chat.
“We carry on rain, snow and cold,” he said. “We walk every Wednesday of the year.”
After crossing a street, I admired the Canada geese, ducks, and moor-hens where the waterway widened beside the smooth path. But, I turned back before the end. And I was glad I did because my legs dragged on the approach to the finish.
The volunteer driver, a retired doctor and gentleman arrived to take me home shortly after we stopped on the street outside a local café. He lifted my muddy-wheeled rollator into his spotless boot and then held out his elbow. I tucked my arm into his firm support on the way to his car, seated myself in his luxury car and he helped my legs in.
“Thank you. I'm so sorry about the mud,” I said. “I should have brought plastic to line the boot.”
“That will clean off. Don't worry about it.” He handed me the seatbelt strap, and then went around to his side, climbed in, and drove off. “Did you enjoy yourself?”
“I did, thank you. It's a treat for me to get out. Sometimes, my husband takes me shopping, but he has trouble lifting the heavy rollator. So I decided to do something on my own. I hope to do it again, but the man at Community Transport said I wasn't priority, so I might not be able to come often.”
We parted with the understanding that he would drive me again if possible.
Have you ever thought to join other walkers in your area? The social contact changes a lonely walk to an event.