Study participant, nutritional therapist and avid walker

14 July, 2012

by Alicia Maetzener

When I spotted an advert inviting participants to join the Sleepy8 walking programme, I felt right away that it would be a great thing to try, and for a number of reasons.

I had been away from home for some time on a residential course and, due to some physical injuries I had picked up, I wasn’t able to do  much cardiovascular exercise during that time.  I knew my fitness had been dramatically impacted as a result.  My injuries were minor, but serious enough to prevent me from jogging, even when I returned home.  For a long time this had been my main activity for fitness, stress management and enjoyment of the outdoors and I was desperate to get back out there.

My osteopath then told me that running is not ideal for me, and that finding a different type of exercise would be better.  I felt I needed to ‘re-set’ my fitness – to restore it, but without forcing myself to do overly strenuous exercise that would compound my injuries.  Walking was definitely worth a try…

Most people know that walking is a good form of exercise, but at the same time don’t really take this fact seriously.  Many are of the opinion that exercise needs to be much ‘harder’, and I’m not ashamed to admit that I was one of the sceptics.  I was definitely curious, and here was an opportunity to so test the theory out for myself… on myself!

With each session I tried to do a little better than before to keep things interesting and challenging, each time walking a bit faster and a bit further in the 30 minutes I was on the treadmill.  I felt energised, I felt fitter and at the end of the six weeks I had the proof… my maximal oxygen uptake had increased, and my legs and arms had became more toned.  I was walking with handweights and so I had expected my arms to benefit, but I hadn’t expected walking on a flat surface would make my legs look nicer.  That was a bonus and it kept me motivated!  Even my hairdresser noticed all these positive changes and was keen to get details of the programme!

It was also a pleasant surprise to discover that walking fast gave me the same stress release that had originally got me hooked on jogging.

Why am I telling you all this?  I work as a nutritional therapist and so in addition to supporting my clients’ health through their diet, I encourage them to make supportive lifestyle changes; adding exercise into their lives for its impact on fitness, stress and mood being one of them.

But let’s face it, it’s easy for me to say ‘walking is the simplest way to incorporate exercise into your life’.  What’s more, everybody knows this already.  However, the challenge will always be to find the time and the self-motivation to get out there and walk, and being made aware of the benefits and the time it will take to see them can only help.

Now that I have my results from the study, I can show them to my clients as black-and-white proof that brisk walking for just 30 minutes, three times a week, really can increase fitness for those who are new to exercise or have been away from exercise for a while.  I can also speak with absolute honesty about how my energy and stress levels have improved as a result of regular walking, as many of my clients are suffering from low energy and high stress levels when they decide to see me.

Yes, walking is easy and it comes with a long list of benefits which are there for everyone to enjoy.  But the hard part will always be sticking to a regular programme and making it an integral part of life.  Being part of the Sleepy8 programme has certainly convinced me that walking can deliver what I need, and it has reminded me that exercise can be part of my routine.  Instead of adding pressure to my life, it has brought a sense of well-being, vitality and calm.

Alicia Maetzener trained in Nutritional Therapy in the UK at the Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION) and at Raworth International College of Complementary Therapy.  She graduated with distinction, and registered with the UK’s Nutritional Therapy Council.

Alicia has been practicing nutritional therapy in Hong Kong since the beginning of 2010 and is based at the Vitality Center on Queen’s Road, Central. Additionally, she has presented lectures on nutrition to holistic therapy students, as well as seminars aimed at members of the public, and acts as a freelance consultant/writer on topics of nutrition.  Her areas of special interest are in supporting clients with: anti-candida programmes, detoxification programmes, vegetarian diets and those with auto-immune issues.

She continues to broaden her skills, recently enhancing her coaching skills with the C.H.E.K. Institute’s Holistic Lifestyle Coach courses (Levels 1 and 2).