The transformative power of walking

Janet Osman is taking retirement in her stride – thanks to the transformative power of walking

The 66-year-old former clinical support worker, from Rodbourne Cheney, has shed two stone and feels on top of the world since she started stepping out for a brisk daily walk.

Besides being much fitter and happier, Janet has also been able to reduce the medication she takes for Type 2 Diabetes – another benefit attributed to her new-found passion.

“Walking has totally changed me. After retiring just over a year ago, I hit a real low and everything fell apart. There was no structure in my life and I became increasingly withdrawn.”

As she stopped going out, she became inactive and her diet also deteriorated.

“I was a virtual recluse – some days I wouldn’t even get out of my dressing gown. I was eating all the wrong things and not moving much, so the weight piled on. At my heaviest I was a size 22 and felt trapped in a vicious circle of bad habits,” she said.

In the new year Janet decided to ring the changes after hearing about the popular weekly Haydon Health Walk, which can attract more than 100 participants.

She said: “It sounded like a great way to get me out and more mobile again. It was also realistic because you can start at your own pace and build up gradually.”

The free four-mile guided walk on Thursday morning is one of more than 15 walking groups across the Borough, which give people of all ages, abilities and walks of life the chance to stretch their legs and socialise together.

Janet said: “Everybody is so welcoming and we talk both on the way and over a cup of tea afterwards. I enjoyed it straight away and started going out for walks independently to build up my fitness levels.”

As she began to feel more energised, Janet started to opt for healthier foods and the extra pounds soon dropped off.

“I knew I was heading in the right direction because my clothes got baggier and this was confirmed when I got on the scales. This gave me more confidence and I started to feel good about myself,” she said.

Janet is now down to a size 14 and has a whole new social network. All the fatty and sugary processed foods in her diet have been replaced with freshly-cooked, well-balanced meals, such as fish, vegetables and a small amount of pasta or rice.

“I decided to join The Ramblers, which is another walking group. We travel to different places and some of the walks are more challenging – I’m hoping to do a 10 miler in future,” she said.

Janet’s husband Jim is thrilled with the results and they now go out for walks together too.

She said: “Jim has always been fit and healthy – he’s a keen cyclist. Now we’ll go out walking and it’s honestly like a whole new lease of life. My doctor couldn’t believe the transformation and asked the secret to my success. I replied ‘walking’ – it really is as simple as that.”

Walking briskly counts towards the recommended 2 and a half hours of physical activity recommended for all adults each week and it is also widely recognised for having a positive effect on mental wellbeing.