Meet Suzanne! 👋 Walking was just another way for her to get from A to B until she rediscovered the benefits of walking in London.
Hear how she went from exploring her neighbourhood on her daily exercise breaks, to founding a new programme to help over 50s build confidence and get into walking. 🚶
Rediscovering walking in London
Walking took on a whole different meaning to me during lockdown. With my local gym closed, my partner and I decided to use our one hour of daily exercise to explore our local area. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we would wake up and be out the door by 7am for an hour’s walk. ⏰
As I walked from Kilburn to Hampstead, the streets were quiet and clear. Taking the same path over and over again, I started to notice rooftop terraces I’d never spotted before, colourfully painted doors and hanging flower baskets. Some days I’d look up and notice ornate building decorations, clear skies and trees coming into bloom. 🍃
Over many months, we tried new routes, coming across streets and beautiful mews that I didn’t know existed – despite living in the area since the mid-70s! 😍
Let’s Walk and Talk
During my first few weeks of walking in London, I realised that walking is also a time for reflection. I’m in my late-50s and many of my friends are going through big life changes and whilst on a walk one day, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment. 💡
I’m a big fan of cognitive hypnotherapy – I’ve used it to lose weight and improve my fitness. So I thought, why not combine this with walking?
Thanks to a grant from Transport for London, that became a reality and I launched the Let’s Walk & Talk app. This seven-week mindful walking programme lets you document your walk while listening to soothing and confidence-building audio recorded by a top cognitive hypnotherapist. 🎧
You can also share discoveries and encourage others on the same journey through a weekly Zoom call. I’m enjoying documenting what I see on my weekly walks and recording my progress. 📈
I’m also the co-founder of Advantages of Age, a social enterprise that improves the wellbeing of older people, eases loneliness and helps those aged 50-75 feel active and valued in society.
Tips to start walking when you’re over 50
Whether you’re over 50 or just trying to get into walking, here are my top tips:
- Dress appropriately. It sounds obvious, but it wasn’t until I started walking regularly that I realised the importance of wearing shoes that are fit for purpose and layers that you can add or remove (including a waterproof!). 👟
- Explore somewhere different. The new Central London Footways map is a brilliant place to start, with interesting and quiet 30-minute routes. 🗺️
- Be present. The Let’s Walk & Talk app lets you record what you’ve seen while walking, your steps and time, and it helps you to walk in a more mindful way. ⏺️
- Take it easy. Walk as far as you feel comfortable and try to do a little more each day. I’m amazed at how much easier it is to walk up big hills now than it was at the start of lockdown. It really is true – practice makes perfect. 🔁