Fulsome praise for the great Shanks’ Pony

Steve Holloway
Steve Holloway

Like an obvious metaphor for a feckless life, it took me a while to realise that the walk is often as good as the destination.

With the exception of a few years of driving, I’ve spent most of my life on two legs or two wheels, and it was only relatively recently I realised how much I enjoyed a decent yomp.

Bernard a young African Sulcata Tortoise  enjoys a stroll in the sunshine on the Western Lawns on Eastbourne seafront (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190523-101229008

Bernard a young African Sulcata Tortoise enjoys a stroll in the sunshine on the Western Lawns on Eastbourne seafront (Photo by Jon Rigby) SUS-190523-101229008

Despite the proximity of the South Downs I prefer the reassuring feel of tarmac underfoot, and favour a seafront or town centre stomp, rather than a stroll through our green and pleasant hills.

On particular hot days when I can’t face the gym, I’ll at least try to stretch my legs. Ideally, with a spot of live cricket, music, or a good podcast in my lugholes.

I also, belatedly, realised it’s good for the soul and especially good for ideas, and these days I often jot down notes into my phone after a few miles on foot, and new observations will come to me easier than when I’m desperately reaching for them while sitting at a desk.

The above was given more credibility this week by an excellent article in The Guardian by Amy Fleming, on the subject of In Praise of Walking by Shane O’Mara published by Vintage (£16.99).

Neuroscientist O’Mara reckons that plenty of regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain, because the old grey matter has evolved to support movement and subsequently doesn’t work so well without that movement. He also cites evidence that regular walkers suffer from lower rates of depression.

It’s a simple and attractive prospect, and as O’Mara says, far more accessible than virtually every other sport or pursuit: “You don’t need to bring anything other than comfy shoes and a rain jacket. You don’t have to engage in lots of preparation; stretching, warm-up, warm-down …”

It’s food for thought, or rather movement for ordered, creative and calm thought. I think I’ll investigate further and will try to get my clammy hands on a copy of the book.

That said, I have, historically at least, genuinely enjoyed spending time at the gym and wouldn’t want to lose it from the weekly routine. Obviously, it’s not for absolutely everyone but it’s been a semi-regular feature for my life for nearly thirty years

I’m going through a slightly lean period at the moment (attendance wise, definitely not physically) and I’m running out of excuses. It always a holistic thing with me and if I’m not eating or sleeping well my energy levels and gym-time suffers.

Things have been somewhat turbulent of late but I’m looking forward to more settled times, and, I hope, more exercise and fewer excuses...

To find out more about Freedom Leisure’s the gym visit www.freedom-leisure.co.uk