The 10,000 step challenge

Tim Unwin is walking 10,000 steps a day to fundraise for the Men's Health Forum.
Tim Unwin walking

Retired French professor Tim Unwin has decided to walk 10,000 steps a day during 2019 to fundraise for the Forum. We asked him ‘pourquoi?’

10,000 steps a day. How’s it going so far?

It's going remarkably well, and my daily average is at this point over 13,000 steps a day. I don't hit 10,000 steps every single day, but the point is to maintain the average throughout the year.

What was the toughest day?

Probably July 25th in Paris, when the mercury hit 42 degrees. I had to make sure I found a cool route.

Fortunately, there is a lovely walk in the south-east of Paris between the Bois de Vincennes and the Place de la Bastille called the 'coulée verte', a former railway line with lots of plants and shade. It's a great place to walk when the city is sweltering.

The weather always plays a big part, and it's inevitably difficult to achieve targets when it rains.

The most enjoyable 10,000?

Undoubtedly my walk up Snowden, the highest mountain in Wales on 6 June, in perfect weather.

It was, as it happened, the only day that week when there was no rain or swirling mist on the mountain, and of course, going up and down Snowden is, as far as steps are concerned, a bumper day (around 28,000 steps in my case).

Why walking?

Walking is great for mental health (it's calming, enjoyable, and makes you focus of the things immediately around you), excellent for posture, and walking at a brisk pace is an ideal form of non-violent aerobic exercise.

The 10,000-steps challenge is something that has had quite a lot of media attention over the last few years, and it appealed to me as something I could, as I get older, still do very successfully.

Why the Men's Health Forum?

It seems to me that the Men's Health Forum has a broad and holistic approach to health, in which mental health is seen as a condition of physical health (and vice versa). This link between the mental and the physical appeals very much to me.

Any personal reason for choosing men’s health?

I've had my own health problems, and had a major, life-saving operation fifteen years ago when I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. I have been fortunate both with the fantastic care I received through the NHS and with the outcome of my cancer.

During and after my illness, I became very aware of the fact that men tend not to look after themselves too well, and rather easily dismiss the signs of poor health. The focus of the Men's Health Forum is very much on looking after yourself.

How can people support you?

By donating, of course, but also by understanding that their donations are worth more than just hard cash. Not only are they helping to save and improve lives, they are also providing massive encouragement to anyone who has set themselves a challenge. As donations come in, you feel hugely buoyed and motivated by the generosity and the kindness that people show.

The Men’s Health Forum need your support

It’s tough for men to ask for help but if you don’t ask when you need it, things generally only get worse. So we’re asking.

In the UK, one man in five dies before the age of 65. If we had health policies and services that better reflected the needs of the whole population, it might not be like that. But it is. Policies and services and indeed men have been like this for a long time and they don’t change overnight just because we want them to.

It’s true that the UK’s men don’t have it bad compared to some other groups. We’re not asking you to ‘feel sorry’ for men or put them first. We’re talking here about something more complicated, something that falls outside the traditional charity fund-raising model of ‘doing something for those less fortunate than ourselves’. That model raises money but it seldom changes much. We’re talking about changing the way we look at the world. There is nothing inevitable about premature male death. Services accessible to all, a population better informed. These would benefit everyone - rich and poor, young and old, male and female - and that’s what we’re campaigning for.

We’re not asking you to look at images of pity, we’re just asking you to look around at the society you live in, at the men you know and at the families with sons, fathers and grandads missing.

Here’s our fund-raising page - please chip in if you can.

Registered with the Fundraising Regulator