Television Producer & Photojournalist with a passion for sharing adventures in and around Melbourne, Australia. See my www.youtube.com/user/tmztvaustralia for other adventures. Subscribe to me so I can tell you of upcoming fab things not to miss.
Published August 19th 2020
Stay flat to the ground, stay fit with Walking Sport
Many of us have grown up with a sport in our lives. I personally started in the pool, swimming and taking gold at local and state events. Then I took up basketball, netball, shot put, and running. Basically, exercise was vital for my soul. Running long distances seemed to put me into a peaceful place; some call it the zone.
The same with my long-distance swimming. I use to pace myself swimming laps with one great friend; his last name was Stark. He was about 6 foot and had a long reach. I had to add weight training to my regime to build my upper body strength before I could finally stay right on his feet for a full 20 laps. But it put me in great stead when we got to comps, especially in butterfly and freestyle as I started to win my age group regularly. Meantime basketball was teaching me hand-eye coordination, and another set of full skills, especially teamwork, complex plays, and mateship.
We also were taught the importance of nutrition to keep our energy and strength levels at top levels. You needed protein and vegetables and some carbs in every single meal surrounded by snacks of fruit. Chocolate was alright before a race for quick energy. This might be all out of date now, but at the time, it was so valuable. Peanut butter sandwiches snuck into my diet often. This was re-enforced with me when my grandmother got senior type 2 diabetes. The diet they gave her was just like mine.
And I continued this way till I got into my 50s when I had to drop netball because my knees starting aching the day after. So I dropped to two basketball games a week. But still loving it.
Then I started getting shearing pain up my spine after a rebound and yes, I had long term damage to my spine. It was time, I and my dear friend had to let go of our team. Her knee had given out. Unfortunately, without our strength on the floor, mine in defence and her in offense, the team folded completely after 20 years. For most of those seasons, we were always in the top three at the end and my champagne glass collection was trophy glasses. All I need is a beach house to use them at. Next dream.
But then I was totally adrift. I bought a rower, but still trying to get into it. I think this says a lot about starting your children young in sport and good nutrition, so it locks in their mindset early in life and stays with them for the rest of their life. I tried tennis, but again, too hard on my knees and back. I went back to the pool, but realised, after so many years of training 2 to 3 hours a day in the pool, my head was waterlogged.
I have since rediscovered my local community pool which is small and lovely and caters for water aerobics, and I do water walking and water running to take the strain off my joints. Loving it and get there two to three times a week.
Finally, walking/running swimming. This has been great for me. You just crawl in the quietist lane and start slowly walking and then build up to running as your muscles warm-up. Many of us have either music headsets on or earbuds blue toothed to our phones. Some listen to music, other to audiobooks. You would be amazed how quickly an hour flies and it is so enjoyable. This is my favourite right now besides just nature walks.
And do not forget good old fashioned long stretch those legs out walks with friends, family, or the grandkids on bikes. There are Heart Health Foundation Walking groups all over Australia. And usually, there is a walking group out of every local community centre, so it is easy to find one near you.
But I am still missing the social aspect. Yes, I still see my dear friend on a regular basis but miss after game coffees and lunches. So I started investigating and I found line dancing, which I have fallen in love with and walking basketball in a nearby shire.
With walking basketball, the rules are much the same with five players per side and regular substitutions allowed. But there is no running allowed at all with or without the ball. You cannot jump to shoot, rebound or defend the basket. And you can retain the ball for 30 seconds before passing off. So you get all the fitness benefits including increased energy, heart health, and it decreases bone loss. It is open even to beginners.
I know of two venues at least in Hawthorn and Cardinia, but there are basketball stadiums and venues in just about every shire, so just ask the stadium management if you can start a team, and advertise on the local website or bulletin board.
As I was discovering this, I found out there were other walking sports. There is also walking netball. It uses the same basic rules with all seven players per side. But a player never has both feet off the ground. They can take one to 2 steps with the ball and hold it for 4 seconds. This is a great way to get all your mates back together and back to regular coffee meets. Many schools have an outdoor court that you might be able to use during quiet times.
Next, I found walking football, which is a modified version of the mighty AFL. There are two teams and you need to score. The team size is smaller 5 or 6 to a side. Again, no running. Running gives the other team a free kick. See the website for details at www.footballvictoria.com.au/community/programs/walking-football. There is a video there you can view.
Finally, there is Pickleball, which I had never heard of. It is a cross between badminton, tennis, and table tennis. It is played as doubles, so bring along your bestie. It is played on courts and you serve diagonally. The ball must bounce only once before you return serve. To prevent spiking there is a two-metre "Out" zone on either side of the net. It is played with big bright paddles and a ball larger than a tennis ball with air holes. So very light. There is even a Pickleball Day and tournaments around Australia, so enjoy some travel with your team.
Pickleball Victoria hosts social play sessions in various locations across Victoria. Connect with a local club or email email@example.com to inform about sessions where and when to play!
Thank you to all the community groups for their lovely photos.