‘I walked back to happiness’

For 49-year-old Shamim Arshad, a retired civil servant from Newcastle, walking has been a lifesaver

“Six years ago, a big asthma attack put me in hospital for two weeks. When I went home, I was put on steroids, which made me overweight and depressed. I got breathless just walking upstairs and I never went out because I was frightened I might have another asthma attack.  

“A friend persuaded me to walk just to the end of the road with her. She’d had treatment for breast cancer and I went thinking I was doing her a favour. I gradually increased my walks and now regularly walk two or three miles around my housing estate or local park. Walking makes me feel fresh and takes stress away.

“My confidence has increased and I’ve reduced the number of inhalers I need from four to one. On cold or damp days, when doctors have told me I shouldn’t walk outside, I do indoor walks around the nearby shopping centre with a friend. And I lead walks around the local area for groups of older people. I want them to enjoy it as much as I do.

“It does give you an incentive to take care of yourself. You know you don’t want to be in hospital in the high-dependency unit on BiPAP [bilevel positive airway pressure].

“It makes you think more about your triggers because that’s the one way you can help yourself. The other thing I’ve learned and would like to pass on to others is that you should never panic. It will only make things worse. Try to relax. You will get help.”



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