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Lockdown Walking Champion: Lorna

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Lorna Philip

GM Walking Champion Lorna Philip has been walking daily during the COVID-19 pandemic, completing her 100th walk in early June. ‘When lockdown was announced, I didn’t want to be stuck in the house every day, and knew I’d miss social contact,’ says Lorna. ‘A friend and I decided that we’d meet and walk to chat and stay in touch. We set off on our first walk on the first day of lockdown, and we’ve been on daily walks ever since.’

Lorna sets off on her daily walks at 7.30am, walking initially for two to three miles. ‘I knew if I set off early I’d be able to complete a walk every day without interruptions, leaving the day free for work and other commitments,’ Lorna says. ‘I’m walking in all-weather; thanks to the warm spring, I made it to 75 days without getting wet!’

Discovering the local area on foot

Not using the car was key for Lorna, so her walks have always begun from her own doorstep. They’ve given her a great chance to explore the local area. ‘I’ve been amazed by the brilliant walks there are from my own front door!’ she says.

Despite living in Oldham for 22 years, Lorna’s discovered a new world on her doorstep on foot. ‘I’ve tried to follow different new paths and routes every day,’ she says. ‘I’ve included routes around Leesbrook and Strinesdale as well as urban parts of Oldham, taking in new areas, animals and wildlife.’

Staying connected with shared messages

‘My walks have provided a great opportunity for some social interaction,’ Lorna says ‘For example, I’ve walked to hand-deliver birthday cards to friends and been able to chat a little from their front gates. Prior to regular walks, I’d have probably just popped the card in the post and not said hello in person.’

Taking pictures of her daily walks has been important for Lorna as a way to maintain community interaction despite social distancing. ‘I’ve been sharing photos on Facebook, mainly for the benefit of those shielding due to COVID-19 who I understand have felt exceptionally isolated,’ says Lorna. ‘But social media’s also proven a great way to get other people joining in on the walks too. In fact, I’ve been going out twice some days to include everyone who wants to join in and still meet social distancing guidelines! It’s been lovely to get to know more people in the local community and bumping into others regularly who are enjoying walks at the same time.’

Gaining benefits for physical and mental health

As well as a way to keep connected with others and explore new routes, Lorna’s seen great benefits to her health from daily walks. ‘I’ve been getting quite competitive with my Fitbit!’ she laughs. ‘My colleagues have even joined in with shared ‘step challenges’. Currently, I’m averaging around two marathons’ distance weekly.’

‘Everyone says I look well, and I feel it’, Lorna adds. ‘Walking has made me feel so much more relaxed. My blood pressure is down, my resting pulse rate has lowered, and I’ve noticed shape changes and some weight loss. I’m sleeping so much better too.’

‘I’ve made a pact with myself to continue walking as often as I can,’ says Lorna. ‘When lockdown’s over, I recognise the times of my walks may have to change due to commuting to work. But walking frequently is something I’m committed to keeping up. Physical, mental and social health benefits have been huge, and this part of Greater Manchester is a lovely part of the world to live in. Walking daily has made me really appreciate my local area.’

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