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I'd recommend Nordic walking to everyone

John took up Nordic walking on a whim. Now he goes several days a week to enjoy the fresh air, company and the benefit it brings to his lungs. 


I have a rare lung condition called relapsing polychondritis. It makes the cartilage in my body break down, and in my case, it affected my windpipe and airways, which gave me breathing problems.

In 1993, I had 9 stents inserted, which helped to stiffen up my airways. That definitely made life a bit easier. But that was before I heard about pulmonary rehabilitation

PR really changed my life

I found out about PR in 2008, when a Breathe Easy group started in Bedford. The ladies who started it were physiotherapists from Bedford Hospital. They told me all about it, and it really changed my life. 

Then about 18 months ago, I came across a leaflet in the library that talked about something called Nordic walking. I was interested, as walking was one of the things I knew I could definitely do. 

It takes a little bit of practice to get used to Nordic walking, but now I’m doing it, I love it. It's different from regular walking, as it's more vigorous. You hold sticks while you do it and swing your arms, so it works out your upper body as well. Nordic walking also puts you in much more of an upright position than normal walking, so it’s very good for you - and for your lungs! 

John doing Nordic walking

It's a nice social activity

One of my favourite things about it is that it’s a social activity. I took it up shortly after I lost my wife, and I found it was a really nice way to spend my time.

I can chat with the other people in the group while we're walking, and even though I do get a little breathless, I can walk and talk fine when we’re not going uphill. 

You do it in groups, and it’s a bit like PR - because you’re not doing it all by yourself, it motivates you to keep going much more than if you were just going for a walk. I think that really helps, especially for people with breathing problems. 

It's really helped my breathing

I prefer it greatly to the gym, which you do inside, in isolation, working against the machines and not interacting much with other people.

I also tried swimming, tai chi and table tennis, but I found that Nordic walking was my favourite. It’s so nice getting out in the countryside. I’ve seen a lot more Bedford than I ever knew existed, and I’ve lived here for 40 years!

I register my lung function every morning by checking my FEV1 and peak flow, and then again after I’ve done my walking, and it’s always increased noticeably! It’s really encouraging. 

I do a walk a couple of mornings a week, and I really enjoy the exercise, the fresh air and the company, and all the other little things too - like seeing all the dogs being walked, which really brightens my day! 

Nordic walking has had a really positive impact on my life and I’d recommend it to everyone. 

We are making a big noise about getting more active this autumn, as part of the We Are Undefeatable campaign, funded by Sport England. 

Walking is a great way to get together with friends, improve your health and raise some money to fund research into lung diseases. Why not stage your own walk to raise money for research into lung diseases?

Join the campaign!

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4 March 2019