A walk counts as exercise and helps lift the spirits

21 November 2018 | Healthy living

Lorraine Hawkins is Head of Digital at World Cancer Research Fund. She talks about how getting out on some winter walks helps lift her mood.  

With the cold weather and dark evenings drawing in, the last thing many people will want to do is exercise. However, I find that the simple act of going for a walk, even just for half an hour, really helps lift both my mood and energy. And it counts as exercise!

I used to feel guilty about no longer doing intense gym sessions or going for long runs. However, as I’ve got older I’ve learnt to adapt, and realised that gentle exercise can still make me feel 100 per cent better about myself.

I spend most of my working hours at a desk, so I have built walking into my commute. I walk about 20 minutes to and from the train station to the office. Some lunchtimes I go for a brisk walk around London – that stops me feeling I’m shaped like a chair and also clears my mind ready for the afternoon.

At the weekend, my husband sometimes pulls out his walking route books. That’s when I know I’m in for something a bit more challenging, which often takes us out into the countryside on some hillier, longer walks.

I also meet up with my mum and sis for a bracing walk by the sea, which has a real feelgood factor. I enjoy wrapping up against the elements and feeling the flush of health in my cheeks.

Not everyone lives close to the countryside or the coast, but there are lots of options such as parks, canal or river walks, and local walking groups. It’s amazing what you find once you put your mind to it.

Working at WCRF, I’m acutely aware of how my lifestyle choices can affect my own risk of developing cancer, and taking up frequent walking is a simple, accessible addition to my life that can make a difference.

I’m really proud of my mum for keeping active in her 70s, so I asked her what she had to say on the matter…

Christine Evans, Lorraine's Mum, says:

"I feel that as you get older it becomes even more important to make the effort to be active. It’s not always easy especially if you have arthritis or other ailments that restrict your movement.

It doesn’t have to be vigorous exercise. I find gardening at my allotment is enough to keep me active by digging and planting.

I used to smoke, as did a lot of people of my generation, but in 2008 I made the decision to stop. I’ve since found it so much easier to keep active and feel all the better for it.

I enjoy going for walks with my daughters along the coast. We have a good old natter and time flies. I really cherish those moments – not only am I keeping fit and healthy but I’m getting to spend precious time with my daughters."

  • Our latest scientific report explains how being active and sitting for less time can actually reduce your cancer risk.
Lorraine Hawkins | 21 November 2018