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In My Father’s Footsteps

Gemma Ryde, University of Stirling (Postdoctoral Impact Research Fellow, School of Health Sciences)

Walking has always been a big part of my life, although my relationship with it has changed over the years.

Since I can remember, my Dad was always a big fan of walking. A fanatic in fact. We moved to Scotland when I was quite young and my Dad embraced everything the hills had to offer and was often found bagging a Munro on the weekends. My mum, sister and I would tag along as ‘support team’ but mostly found a nice campsite to reside at whilst dad did all the hard work. Having short legs at the time, I remember disliking walking any distance immensely, preferring more exciting and explosive activities such as tag and climbing trees. Although despite my moaning, we frequently headed out on family jaunts.
Dad’s love of walking also didn’t make much of an impression on me during my teenage years. Instead, I became interested in running and pursued this to varying degrees into my early twenties. In fact, I would actively avoid expending any extra energy on walking so I could be fresh and ready for a good running session on the track.

Now several years down the line, with a very different lifestyle and focus (a young family and a very sedentary job), my relationship with walking has changed. Instead of avoiding steps, I now have to actively chase them. Only just five minutes before writing this, myself and a friend went for a quick 15 minute stroll around our workplace after the realisation that we had only clocked up 2,200 steps during seven hours at work. But, it is the additional benefits I gain from walking more than the steps that gets me out the door. From that one short outing today, not only did I get some much needed movement but I talked through a problem with a friend and cleared my head at the same time.

That is what walking is to me now. I understand why my Dad enjoyed walking so much and he wanted his family to experience those benefits. Some of the best times I have had are as a result of walking and it is getting outside and spending quality time with friends and family that is what I treasure about it. After recently returning from a holiday on Skye, where my Dad would have now doubt have snuck in a walk in the Cuillins somewhere, I had frequent jaunts with my family amongst amazing scenery. Now I can show my family the delights of walking – although hopefully with much less moaning.

For more information on The Step Count Challenge, visit The Challenge Blog, created and maintained by our Legacy partner, Paths for All.