Nina Barough CBE
Founder and Chief Executive of breast cancer charity Walk the Walk.
When Nina Barough was diagnosed with breast cancer, it came as a shock – mainly because she didn’t feel ill.
Ironically, just a few months earlier, she had gathered together a group of friends to walk a marathon in decorated bras, raising thousands of pounds for research into breast cancer. After her own diagnosis in 1997, walking regularly and keeping fit became her mantra.
Nina says: “Before I went into hospital, I really concentrated on both my diet and my health. I thought that if I could get as fit and as healthy as possible, I would be in a better position to recover from my treatment.
While her breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, encourages walking challenges to suit different abilities, Nina says her walking starts as soon as she gets out of bed in the morning. “It’s hard to hear that people give up wearing a fitness tracker, because of the pressure of trying to hit 10,000 steps a day. I strongly feel that if we all aim for two miles a day as a minimum, it’s more achievable and will encourage people to grow their goals from there. Miraculously, I can do two miles a day just doing my housework!
The benefits of walking at speed became obvious
The benefits of walking soon began to feel obvious, especially when it was part of Nina’s daily routine. What’s more, it seems that the medical profession agrees.
For healthy people, walking is advocated as a great, low-impact activity that, if done at a faster pace (i.e. power walking), can get your heart pumping and oxygenate your lungs. Walking’s good for the heart, bone density, symptoms of the menopause and for the mind – the benefits are endless. It’s the perfect exercise.
While there was no advice given to take up walking during her breast cancer treatment, Nina could feel for herself the benefits both mentally and physically, and it really set the path for her future. “It definitely helped me through,” she says. “And, now, I often schedule time in my diary so that I create space for a daily walk – it sets me up for the day.”
Walking’s good for the heart, bone density, symptoms of the menopause and for the mind – the benefits are endless. It’s the perfect exercise.
A sense of achievement
What’s more, the benefits of walking aren’t just physical. A regular walk has been found to be great for mental health and reducing stress. Trying different routes, pace and types of walking will keep it varied and interesting. Slower, more meditational walks are better on some occasions – at other times people will want to achieve a personal best.
While some may thrive on endurance and speed challenges and more physical activities, Nina believes that you can achieve real joy from all types of daily walking, no matter what your personal goal is. She says: “Of course, as well as all the physical and mental benefits, taking on marathon walking challenges throughout the UK or the world has been an added bonus – and can allow you to discover so many new and wonderful places. The truth is, though, whether we want to hit a target or just get fit, walking is the perfect solution”.