Keeping Fit in Later Life

Kath's Story

KathI was diagnosed with a brain tumour when I was 72. The tumour wasn’t malignant but it was the size of a plum and pressing down on my optic nerve which caused vision problems – and it was growing larger all the time.  After a 9-hour operation the tumour was removed, but I was left extremely weak and with partial sight in both eyes.  Going out walking was my way of dealing with the trauma of this illness and its consequences, and it has also been a way of getting better – I literally walked my way to recovery.

I grew up in the country where we had no car to get around so I was always fairly active.  Later in life, in my 40s I had a decade of dreadful back problems which meant I couldn’t take much exercise, and then when my back did improve and I could be more active, my husband died.  I then joined the local Ramblers group as a way of meeting people and keeping social contact going.  I really grew to enjoy walking, whether in the fields around where I live, or in the wider countryside – though I’m not keen on steep hills.

When my brain tumour was diagnosed, doctors told me they were impressed with my fitness levels which were that of a person 20 years younger.  If I hadn’t been so fit they said they wouldn’t have operated on me.

As soon as I was discharged from hospital, I started to walk around our village.  It was February and not a great time to be outside but I found I could get out most days and my walks grew from a few hundred yards to a mile and then further.  It was a way of thinking through what had happened to me, and coming to terms with the consequences.  I was no longer able to drive and I really missed my independence in having my own car, especially living in a village.  But things could have been a lot worse!

It’s 9 years now since my tumour was diagnosed and I’m getting older so I am less active, but I still walk to the village shop to get my paper every morning and go out with a local walking group most weeks.  I know my local area really well now!  It’s important to me to keep active for as long as I am able to, and I enjoy meeting my friends for a walk and a chat – and a cup of tea at the end!

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12 WEEK WALK PLAN

The aim of the plan is to get you walking briskly for at least half an hour on at least five days of the week.