We represent walking for all Queenslanders

Bernie’s Story: Walking for health and happiness

Walking has always been a part of Bernie’s life. Now that he’s older, it’s his main form of exercise.

Bernie has both Parkinson’s Disease and Type 1 Diabetes, but he refuses to be defined by his illnesses. “I see walking as a crucial part of my treatment. It helps me mentally and emotionally, as well as physically.”

Parkinson’s Disease can change how a person walks due to slow movements, stiffness, rigidity, loss of balance and muscle strength and increased fatigue. It makes walking normally harder. “Some days walking is hard, but if I make the effort, it always pays off,” says Bernie.

Good days and bad days are a feature for people with Parkinson’s, so safe and connected pathways are essential to support walking even on their worst days. Parkinson’s is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder, next to dementia, with more than 130,000 Australians affected.

For people with Type 1 Diabetes, walking is essential to help with controlling blood sugars and maintaining a healthy body weight. Over 134,000 Australians are living with Type 1 Diabetes and almost 1.3m have Type 2 Diabetes.

Bernie says that walking helps him feel connected. “I feel part of my community when I’m out walking and often run into neighbours or friends and have a chat. Walking alone has it’s benefits too. It can really help to clear the mind.”

“I can go bushwalking only minutes from my home and Mt Coot-tha is not much further, with some  easy trails that I can enjoy. It’s incredibly restorative for the soul to walk in the bush and I always feel better when I go there.”

“One of the biggest barriers to walking locally is the lack of safe footpaths. I’d like to see our governments prioritise spending on footpaths in all of our communities throughout Queensland. Often paths are uneven or cracked, causing a tripping hazard, or they’re non-existent. I often have to walk on the road and hope that drivers can see me and drive slowly and safely; which is not always the case.”

“I live near a school and it troubles me that school children don’t have access to safe crossings or footpaths in heavy traffic areas. If our paths are safe for all ages and abilities, then we can all walk to benefit our physical and mental health; as well as for transport, contributing to a greener, safer community.”