100 days of walking... we’re halfway there

People all across Ireland are taking part in #100daysofwalking. Irene Halpin Long spoke to Dr Ciara Kelly, the woman behind the campaig
100 days of walking... we’re halfway there
Dr Ciara Kelly having fun with participants, at the 100 days of walking campaign near The Lough.Picture: David Keane

A GROUP of walkers from around Cork joined Dr Ciara Kelly at The Lough in the past week — marking Day 50, the halfway point of her 100 days of walking challenge.

Dr Ciara has spent most of her adult life working in the medical profession. She is well known for having worked on RTÉ’s Operation Transformation and presents lunchtime live on Newstalk every weekday from 12 to 2pm. She also broadcasts her show from Newstalk’s Cork Studio regularly.

So, it was no surprise that Dr Ciara resolved this New Year to walk each day for 30 minutes, for 100 consecutive days.

“It was New Year’s Eve and I was thinking about the new year ahead. I wanted to do something that focuses the mind on being active. Walking for half an hour each day is manageable for everyone. I liked the idea of doing something simple and sustainable, something I could maintain long term.”

To keep herself motivated, Dr Ciara announced her 100 day walking challenge to the public via social media and advises other people to share their plans with others to get fit so they hold themselves accountable.

“I announced my plan to walk 100 consecutive days to all and sundry so that it would provide pressure for me to keep going. If you commit to a resolution in public, or to your family and friends, you are more likely to continue.”

As a health care professional, Dr Ciara believes in leading by example by walking each day for 100 days.

“Long before I ever worked on Operation Transformation, I spent most of my adult life working in the health arena, working to help people improve their general well-being. This challenge is part of that. I love that people have come on board and embraced the idea of walking every day.”

One of the things Dr Ciara loves about walking a minimum of 30 minutes a day is that “it doesn’t matter if you are old or young, fat or thin, fit or unfit, you can take part. All you need is a pair of comfy shoes or a pair of runners and the minute you step outside your door, you’ve already started.

“There are enormous benefits from walking regularly,” says Dr Ciara. “Walking improves energy levels. It’s good for your mental health. It benefits your cardiovascular and respiratory system. It’s good for weight management and muscle strength. It increases bone strength, hence reducing the risk of osteoporosis. It helps lower blood pressure and your resting heart rate. It is the simplest form of exercise and it is completely free. Everyone can do this and there are no barriers. Age isn’t a barrier. Money isn’t a barrier. Fitness isn’t a barrier. Everyone can walk at their own pace for half an hour each day.”

People from across Ireland and around the world have been inspired by Dr Ciara’s walking challenge and joined her in walking for 100 consecutive days. Beautiful photographs have been posted on Dr Ciara’s Twitter feed, capturing the varying landscapes and views around Ireland.

“The photos are like a showcase for Ireland. There are some stunning shots of parts of Ireland I have never seen before. Some humorous ones of people out walking with goats and cows. Really lovely pictures. I am completely blown away by Ireland’s beauty.”

Dr Ciara has received a lot of positive feedback since starting the challenge on January 1. She says: “This is an idea that is free to all and to be shared by all. Anyone who wants to take part is welcome. There has been a lot of positivity around the idea of walking every day for 100 days because people see it for what it is. I’m not selling anything. It’s a simple idea. We just want to get people moving.

“Huge amounts of people have contacted me and said they have lost weight. Their mental health has improved. Their energy levels are better. They feel more positive about 2019 than they did about 2018. It’s given some people a focus and a purpose.

“If you can achieve one simple thing every day, it has a knock-on effect in terms of how you feel.”

Dr Ciara’s 100 days of walking challenge ends on April 10. She offers this advice to people who may be living a sedentary lifestyle and want to get fitter.

“Just, literally, walk out the front door. Anyone can walk for half an hour. Just start and go at your own pace. Take 30 minutes for yourself and commit to doing it. You can join me now and finish on day 100 which is April 10. Or, you can start your own 100 days of walking right now. This is one change you can make to your life that you can maintain long term.”

Follow Dr Ciara @ciarakellydoc or search #100daysofwalking

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