Mick Broggio, 75, from Bishopston began walking again in 2016 after having radiotherapy for prostate cancer and then a hip replacement. Here, he shares his experiences of walking and how it has formed an important part of his recovery.
How did you first get into walking and route developing?
For many years my wife and I have liked going on medium walks, (6 – 7 miles or so) as relaxation, exercise and enjoying the countryside. In 2012 the Ramblers Association trained a group of volunteers to devise short (1 mile) easy access routes based on health centres; I created routes around Hengrove, Lawrence Weston and Shirehampton. By the way, the Ramblers Association website allows anyone (not just members) to register and then download all its short easy access routes anywhere in England and Wales.
In 2014/15 I was part of a community group in Bishopston that produced a local map called ‘Let’s Walk Bishopston’, just as my health problems started.
What part has walking played in your recovery?
Leading up to and during my treatment I was unable to stride out for about two years, so after my hip replacement I was determined to try and get fit. I began with a little walking route around Horfield Common, extended it as I got fitter and I also started walking to and from my hospital appointments at Southmead. It gave me a sense of freedom (and of getting back control of my life) as well as helping me get fit.
How does going for a walk make you feel? In what way does it change your state of mind?
It had been a grim few months for me, being stuck mostly inside while I had my treatment, so walking was really good for me physically and mentally.
One of the aims of ‘Let’s Walk Bishopston’ was to add walking routes to Southmead Hospital, and I realised that I knew such routes; I started a project, assembled a small team and then we linked up with the Sustainable Development Unit at Southmead Hospital. We have just produced a new map called ‘Let’s Walk North Bristol, which has the three routes of mine as well as three other short routes from the hospital, devised for their staff to use at lunchtime.
Doing this project is my way of giving something back. I hope that these maps will help others (maybe those who have been ill or are not as mobile as they once were) to discover walking and get that freedom that I now have.
What’s your walking routine now?
I still walk to shops and my medical appointments when I can. The side effects of my radiotherapy and other treatments put a limit to what I can do, and when, but I am gradually getting back to going on longer walks.
What tips would you give anyone thinking of getting into walking who might be suffering from the same conditions as you?
I would say to start small if you’re not feeling confident, and build up your walking as you get fitter – every step counts and it’s surprising how you can improve. Listen to your body; don’t go further than you feel comfortable with.
The maps mean that you don’t have to worry about getting lost, and they mainly keep to less busy, more pleasant roads and footpaths.
The aim of these easy access routes (all on surfaced paths or pavements, so suitable for wheelchairs or buggies) is to give people a sense of what might be right for them – including shorter walks they can do to help build their confidence. It’s also about incorporating it into their everyday activities, like walking to the shops, clinics etc. if they can, for example.
You can access and download the maps here:
Bristol Walk Fest, the UK’s largest celebration of urban walking, takes place from 1 – 31 May 2018. See what’s happening and when on our events calendar page.