Blokes Need to Walk the Walk

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Erik Eriksson

Heart Foundation Walking

Thank you for this opportunity to be a Heart Foundation `Bring a Bloke’ evangelist.

Heart Foundation Walking (HFW) is a worthy cause but continues to be an elusive, ever moving target; particularly in the wide open spaces of our country location, which offers so many hiding places for that elusive of male Heart Foundation Walkers species.

We regularly call on our faithful walking girls to lend a helping hand to burn their partners loose, although I know the majority have tried and failed before.

`Bring a Bloke’ is our chance for a fresh attempt and a new start.

I was once a `Bring a Bloke’ dragged in by my wife Lesley, so to speak. She saw the HFW poster announcement on the noticeboard of our local IGA store, put there by our diligent promoters of our local Health One service.

The rest is History.

Before I knew what hit me I was conscripted and enlisted in HF Walkers Anonymous, for a once, and then twice weekly walk in our local surroundings. I found myself surrounded by walkers of all ages, faiths and levels of fitness, of course the latter soon changed and we strode forward to a healthier future together.

But it was an environment where I often turned out to be the only male.

To this day men in our group remain conspicuous by their absence. Few of the male joiners actually stay. Of course kudos and commendations to the few that have stayed the course.

My wife’s granddad, a jovial market gardener and a man of the land in Bedfordshire UK used to groan (when he did not feel like doing something): “Oh NO, sorry I can’t do this, I’ve got a bone in me leg”.

It’s the same here where we have many jovial husbands and partners, spruiking pretty much the same story when interrogated about not walking.

Invariably when I launch into my evangelistic mode talking about our local activities and “stuff”, I encounter that glazed over far-away look in their  eyes, shuffling of feet, an onset of shallow breathing and I know I have lost them to a version of their journey from where no messages get back (credit to “Falling towards England”, Clive James 1985).

Together we can try and resolve this conundrum, evolve a permanent solution if you will. The first easy step on the path to recovery would be to simply join your local HF Walking chapter, with your wife, partner etc.

Another, irrespective of your gender, start off by bringing a bloke during Men’s Health Week (AND beyond!) and watch the wonders of Walking unfold from there.

Better still, share the joy and bring more than one bloke as walking is not a monogamous activity.

HF Walking is an ever circulating and evolving cocktail party, as in: “Sorry, I’ve got to circulate” when you spot someone more knowledgeable or desirable amongst the walkers of the day. It’s a great game and a great way to travel, constantly evolving and certainly helps to eliminate any monotony along the walking trajectory.

The benefits of walking are clear and non-negotiable - they have the potential to stave off early physical malfunctions, even death.

Apart from “the bone in me leg” excuse, there are no sound reasons why your partner should not be burnt loose from his shed, ride-on mower or home brewing kit.

My suggestion: just make a start and a plan to come for that first walk - just one a week - and take it from there.

Long-term how we can make this formula stick?

I have no idea – I’m just an active walker. Any suggestions including fresh walkers are always welcome. A hardy core of Heart Foundation Walkers will be there to take you for your non-gender specific Heart Foundation Walk.

The return rate of our regular walkers is a measure of our collective success and the personal satisfaction we derive from getting people mobilised and subscribing to the HFW idea.

On the odd grey rainy morning where you find yourself the solitary one or two walkers, it hurts a little. But forgetting that you yourself are the main beneficiary of all these miles that we cover, and the great people we meet and the friends we make, I’m sold - even if I’m the only male in the Village – for now.