Cliff Austen feels 10 years younger, and it’s all thanks to a simple prescription – walking.
Now father-of-two Cliff has got the walking bug he’s trained to be a volunteer health walk leader with the NHS in a bid to help others to get active. Cliff, 68, said he first noticed that he had been gaining weight about four years ago.
“It was a gradual thing so I didn’t really notice at first,” recalled Cliff, “but it got to the point that I couldn’t walk up the stairs without getting breathless.”
Cliff and his wife Christine, of Shipley Mill Close, Ashford, turned to their GP for advice and saw the practice nurse at their local surgery, who recommended NHS Health Walks.
“We both joined the one that left from the surgery,’’ said Cliff from his home in Ashford. “We soon moved on to a longer walk in Singleton. Now I go twice a week. I’ve also just completed my volunteer walk leader training to lead a walk from Coningbrook.
“I’ve lost about a stone and a half but it’s not just the weight – we’ve made lots of new friends through walking. We’ve got our walk Christmas lunch coming up and this year we’ve been out more times than I can remember. I feel fitter now than I felt 10 years ago. It really is the best prescription for better health.”
Julia Wells, Health Walks Co-ordinator for Kent Community Health NHS Trust, said: “Health walks are good for body and soul. Regular walking can reduce your risk of getting heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
“You can control your weight more easily and make new friends. Walking is fun and best of all – it’s free. There’s no need to book, just turn up and join in.”
NHS Health Walks operate across east Kent. For more information and to find your nearest health walk visit www.kentcht.nhs.uk/healthwalks or call 0800 849 4000.