Walk to the moon and get fit for summer

AFTERNOONS are getting slightly longer. Bright days are beginning to feel spring like. Daffodils are starting to show themselves.And everywhere people are starting to come out of hibernation and starting to think about getting fit again to enjoy the fine weather.

By Paul Geater

AFTERNOONS are getting slightly longer. Bright days are beginning to feel spring like. Daffodils are starting to show themselves.

And everywhere people are starting to come out of hibernation and starting to think about getting fit again to enjoy the fine weather.

The Evening Star will once again be launching its Spring into Summer campaign in a few weeks' time - but in the meantime now is the time to start feeling more active again.

Our Walk to the Moon campaign is now tantalisingly near its target of covering the 235,000 miles from the earth to the moon.

Many people still have their pedometers - although they may have been gathering dust through the wet winter months - but now is time for the final push to reach the target before our attention is turned to other fitness programmes over the next few months.

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Our walkers have currently complete 184,000 miles - nearly 80 per cent of the 235,000 target.

Not everyone puts their feet up during the winter. At Ipswich council's Grafton House headquarters there is a dedicated crew who exercise together every week as part of the Fit for Work programme.

Led by borough fitness guru Claire Parker they go for regular runs every Tuesday and Thursday lunchtime.

She said: “We started by just running up the road and back but we have extended that and now many people go for a full four-mile run from here to Chantry Park every week.

“It's a move that is keen encouraged by bosses here. Having a fit workforce is good for the authority - it encourages people to work that bit harder.”

The borough has other schemes aimed at improving the fitness of its staff.

There are regular walks around parks with rangers - and staff are encouraged to take time out to walk into the town centre at lunchtimes.

Ms Parker said: “Walking, running, any kind of exercise is good and if you want to get fit during the spring now is the time to start doing some gentle activity.”

At the borough the runs started in September and there are now about 20 people who take part - although not usually all on the same day.

Now Ms Parker is considering starting a second group.

“Those of us who started in September are now doing the full four miles and that can be a bit daunting for new runners so we may start with the mile and a half sessions again for a new group.”

n.To log your steps on our website go to www.eveningstar.co.uk/walktothemoon/mywalk

If you need a new pedometer e-mail paul.geater@eveningstar.co.uk - although stocks are now diminishing.

See The Evening Star over the next few weeks for details about Spring into Summer 2007.

REGULAR runner Adam Keer, who works in the council's sports department, said the regular runs were now an important part of his work routine, and was sure they helped him to work much better when he returned to his desk.

He said: “I certainly feel much better and ready to work again when I get back to my desk after a run around Chantry Park.

“It's much better to go running as part of a group, even if there are only two or three of you, because it helps to motivate you.

“There were times in the winter when I didn't fancy going out - but if you feel like that there is always someone else there to gee you up and persuade you to go out.”

Adam still has his pedometer and will continue to log the steps he walks on our Walk to the Moon website.

One of his regular running mates is Suzanne Heath from the council's communication team, who said the encouragement of fellow runners was very important.

“Sometimes I really would feel: 'It's drizzling - I'll work through lunch today' but then you'd get a call from Claire or Adam and they would persuade me to go out - and I'd feel much better after the run.”

The group now takes about 30 to 40 minutes to complete the four-mile run.

Ms Heath said: “I've discovered parts of Chantry Park I never knew existed. It is a wonderful place.

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