I love my pedometer. At bedtime, it tells me if I’ve had a good day. So my morning always starts by clipping on my trusty little step counter as I strike out to Macmillan’s UK office in Vauxhall.
I’m lucky. My commute involves a walk, brisk of course, by the majestic River Thames. Lambeth Council has ensured there’s a traffic-free path beside the river. No roaring traffic and fumes for me – just seagulls diving and squawking. It makes my commute to work something to look forward to.
I’m passionate about walking. It is free, you can do it anywhere, you don’t need any special equipment, and the evidence is unequivocal: walking saves lives. That’s why Macmillan works with all the health walk programmes in the UK, and we run Walking for Health in England with our partners the Ramblers.
The first meeting of the day is up the stairs to the 12th floor with my colleague Rhian, who supports Macmillan’s physical activity projects around the country. They are doing fantastic work to help people living with and beyond cancer to overcome the challenges they face getting active. Walking plays a big part in that because it’s popular with so many people.
Next, it’s up to the 14th floor to see Elinor in the marketing department. Elinor has come up with the idea of writing to people with cancer to tell them about their local health walks. Thanks to Macmillan’s wonderful nurses and the respect they inspire, people listen to Macmillan’s advice. So it’s no surprise that the focus groups Elinor has organized with Make Sport Fun tell us a letter from Macmillan about walking will have an impact. Today, we’re working on the guidance leaflet for the pack, incorporating the words and images our groups told us would build their confidence and motivation.
Then we’re off to the Houses of Parliament. It’s only a 15 minute walk. Macmillan is part of the Richmond Group of health charities and together we have launched a new report. The rise in potentially preventable conditions is costing the NHS around £5 billion every year in treatment and management. Wouldn’t it be better to prevent them in the first place by getting the nation active and eating more healthily? Of course! We spoke to MPs, and Dr Lou Atkins outlined the fascinating science of behaviour change. Best of all was the health walk at the end. As we explored the streets and parks around parliament, Macmillan volunteer, Ian Rigby told us his inspiring story. Walking for Health had thrown him a lifeline after his cancer diagnosis. Walkers from Lewisham Health Walks enthusiastically agreed and told us one story after another of how walking had got them back on their feet, out and about, and having a laugh.
Another brilliant day working for Macmillan. And as it clicks over 16,000 steps, the pedometer agrees.
For more info on health walks visit www.macmillan.org.uk/walkingforhealth