Jeff: Walking saved my life

Jeff found a love for walking 10 years ago after struggling with various health issues.

Jeff, Humans of the Walk

After undergoing surgery for mouth cancer, Jeff returned to walking not only for his physical health, but to regain his speech, using his daily walks to practice tongue twister exercises to help his recovery.

Walking has completely changed my life. I was suffering from various health issues and went to the doctors for advice, it was recommended I take up walking and I’ve never looked back.

When I began walking I lost a lot of weight and improved my general wellbeing, and crediting walking for saving my life.

Fast forward a few years and I was diagnosed with mouth cancer, after an intense recovery period I found myself leaving hospital in the middle of a pandemic, with reduced speech ability.

I was determined not to let this hamper my quality of life, and so I used walking to practise exercises given to me by an NHS therapist. Many of these involved the kind of tongue twisters we used to have fun with as kids.

It was less embarrassing to spout these when alone in the countryside or along the riverbank when no one else was around.

The outdoors can help to unwind, forget worries and for me, I can think more creatively to solve problems.

My wife always says I’m happier when I come back from a walk and it is true. We should all make time to switch off from the world and enjoy the nature around us.

Protecting the environment is another reason I actually choose to walk. Our country is so beautiful and I don’t want to be a contributor to spoiling the beauty.

The outdoors and nature has helped me become more creative. I used to listen to audio books during my walks and I walked that much I began to run out. That’s when I decided I’d have a go at writing my own book which is called “Travels from my Twilight Zone”.

Since my initial health issues, I’ve become a walking advocate and would encourage people to think about taking it up. Even if you decide to actively travel a short journey instead of taking the car, it all adds up!

Jeff, previous Head of BBC Radio Scotland, is a trained Health Walk Leader with Paths for All and works with Partnership for Wellbeing as the Charity Manager and is responsible for community transport and group health walks.

Jeff's story is part of our Humans of the Walk campaign during COP26. Check out the full campaign gallery here.