Stepping Up for Dementia

I’m not one for a challenge, not a physical one anyway. Rarely you’ll see me taking part in a run, obstacle course or anything super energetic. I am not a naturally gifted person when it comes to sport, and more recently, there have been physical complications to deal with. However, I will be walking 850,000 steps in the next 3 months for Alzheimer’s Society. This is going to be a massive challenge for me, see why:

At the top of Garth Moutain
Very pink and ‘glowing’ after an extremely hot walk up Garth Mountain in Gwaelod Y Garth close to my home in Cardiff.

Walking’s not that hard, is it?

My fitness has always been questionable. In school, I was on the hockey team and took part in athletics, etc. but really I was rubbish. After leaving school, I played baseball, but again was never the star on the team. I have always gone to the gym to keep me from going from obese to super obese.

Nearly 4 years ago, I broke my coccyx, which is the most painful thing that has ever happened to me. (I fell down the stairs from top to bottom – and no, I wasn’t drunk.) I wouldn’t even wish the pain on my worst enemies. In the first year, I didn’t move, as even walking was a discomfort. My already unhealthy weight ballooned, and a fear of exercise grew.

I have slowly been able to get back into a routine at the gym. Though my abilities are severely diminished compared to what they were, and they weren’t great, to begin with. Before lockdown, I was only doing a few bits on the cardio equipment, an easy spin class and swimming – which I’m missing more than anything, maybe even the pub.

About 2 years ago, I fell down the same set of stairs again. This time only a step or two. Leaving me in agony for weeks. This has now given me a fear of falling, so when I do go out for a long walk, I am very much plodding along on the hills – I live in Wales, they’re everywhere. Much to the frustration of my boyfriend, Michael, who could lap me on some of the routes.

My coccyx has never really healed, and because of the inactivity – or weak activity – the muscles in my lower back have seized up and add to the pain I still have.

Stepping Up for the Alzheimer’s Society

When we aren’t social distancing, I struggle to get the recommended 10,000 steps a day in. I sit at my office desk all day, and if I’m not going to the gym after work, I just head home. I cook us dinner, maybe do a bit of housework, and that’s it.

I saw the advert on Facebook, for the Stepping Up for Alzheimer’s Society challenge. I don’t usually delve any deeper into any fitness challenge when they pop up. However, earlier that day I had spent 20 minutes on the phone to my Grandmother, who had told me the same story 3 times, as well as repeating bits of the conversation, and double-checking if it was mum or me on the line.

It is not the first time that Alzheimer’s has impacted my family, my other Nan also had the disease, and in the end, she had to move into a care home. It made a calm, church-going lady throw her handbag through an old stained glass window in frustration because she didn’t understand why she was not living at home anymore.

What is Alzheimer’s?

The most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s or Dementia is a difficulty in remembering recent events. As the disease advances, symptoms can include problems with language, disorientation including getting lost, mood swings, loss of motivation, not managing self-care or forgetting to eat and even behavioural issues. As a person’s condition declines, they often withdraw from family and society.

No treatments stop or reverse its progression, though some may temporarily improve symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Society works tirelessly to promote awareness of the disease, fund research and enhance care and support for both sufferers and their families.

Castell Coch
Castell Coch may be closed to the public, but there are two walking routes that can still be enjoyed for locals, like me, living nearby.

What is the challenge?

Throughout April, May and June 2020, I’ll be pushing my walking boundaries to get this massive total of 850,000 steps. On average, this will mean I have to do 9,341 steps a day. However, with lockdown, this has become even more of a challenge. Why 850,000 steps? That’s the same number of people living with dementia in the UK right now.

I am very lucky, that even in lockdown, there are three walking routes that I can use for my daily exercise. Gwaelod y Garth is a small village a short walk from home, and from there it is upwards, climbing Garth Mountain. Castell Coch is in Tongwynlais, a 20-minute walk from my house, there is a short climb before accessing 2 walking routes. Lastly, I can access the Taff Trail and walk towards Pontypridd or one of my favourite locations, Forest Farm. Here you can see the remains of the Industrial Revolution, where the Glamorganshire Canal was used to transport coal, as well as all of the wildlife – including ducks who like to walk with you.

How you can support

I am very determined to do it! Which is not something I can say about previous fitness challenges. I am tracking the number of steps on my FitBit, and I will be giving updates on my social media, as well as my JustGiving page.

It really would mean the world to me if you could make a small donation, so we can help combat this heartbreaking disease. If you’ve witnessed it you know how tragic it is, if you haven’t, I hope you never do.

Charitable Donation

You can also donate via PayPal

£5.00

 

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