Tony was worried about his health and tired of being stuck in the house - so he decided to start walking. Two years later, walking has changed his life. His heart condition is under control, he’s lost two stone and he’s made a whole new group of friends.
“On 18th July 2015, the sun was shining and I fancied a walk. I headed to the Chasewater Country Park, near Cannock in the West Midlands.
“After walking 200 metres I was breathless and my legs almost gave out. I limped back to the car, drove home, slumped back onto the sofa and felt thoroughly depressed. I was an overweight smoker, had a lousy diet, never exercised and rarely met people.
“An hour later I threw my cigarettes in the bin and bought a pair of weighing scales. I went online and worked out a simple, walking based exercise regime. After three weeks of regular walking, the bottoms of my feet had toughened up and my calf muscles had settled down. I felt great.
“I got talking to some other walkers at Chasewater, and they suggested I try the Age UK South Staffordshire Positive Steps Walking for Health scheme. I thought ‘Why not?’ and went along.
"Before joining the scheme, my life had already improved – but when I joined the group, it was like hitting a turbo button.
“I’ve never been a confident person, but the other walkers were really welcoming and wonderful people who also shared similar interest and values. The humour was infectious and the walk atmosphere was like sunshine. I finished the walk feeling invigorated and happy.
“The walk leader was superb and made us feel safe, without feeling we were being ordered around.
“I now plan my week around the walks which are scheduled for that week. I really look forward to the walks and to revisiting conversations with friends I have made.
“I have a mild heart condition and have an annual ‘MOT’ to check I’m still okay. After I started walking, my test results were better than when they first started being recorded 15 years ago – the nurses could barely believe it.
"I love the outdoors now and I’m meeting wonderful people. Walking has played a huge part in helping me discover just how good life can be.”
Find your nearest walking group here.