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AM packing a pedometer in these dangerous times. I do not mean a gun like a Beretta but a small mechanism linked with saving lives.

IClipped onto my belt waist-high is an oval shaped pedometer, a step-counter reputed to keep me going, not bump me off.

My new toy tots up the steps I take, for example, 7,034 from home to the nearest pint of Brains. Some might say it is only a measuring device, but it is good to know how far you have walked on a sunny morning and exactly when it is helpful to turn around and head back. By the way, it is 6,903 steps to the shop that sells me the Western Mail.

I am a beginner, but counting my steps is especially relevant now that life in retirement should fall into three neat categories of healthgiven activity, confirmed in a newspaper headline this week - 'Golf, gardening and housework reduce the risk of serious diseases'.

Professor Hmwe Kyu, of the University of Washington, one of the authors of the recent report that states: "What is clear is that in terms of protecting oneself from the development of five common and potentially life-limiting illnesses, namely heart disease, colon cancer, diabetes, stroke and breast cancer. Exercise works. The more the better".

Recommended in detail is a daily effort of one hour of walking , 45 minutes of weeding or five minutes spent climbing stairs.

So my small oval capsule gives me a fair idea of how I am doing. I have a measurement. For your interest, 115 million smart watches and wearable walking trackers were sold across the world last year. So keep moving and keep a count.

To change to a health regime you need determination. It has been described rightly as a war against inactivity and obesity and this is why I have gone for the pain-free simple pedometer that detects the motion of the wearer's hands or hips by an informal calibration, and pops up the digital answers.

Mrs Lewis is right, however, to point out in her charmingly pointed way, that I have started to mumble around the house uttering what she describes as "a jumble of motivational words and phrases" such as "health and wellness, cardiovascular, self-esteem through fitness", crowned, she says by the extraordinary justifying description of my new pedometer purchase as "a non-pharmaceutical sleep aid".

Apparently these mutterings flow from my lips as I kneel scooping out dandelion roots and walking in a Quasimodo posture all over the drive squirting annual deep-rooted perennial weeds with the spray of death.

When I volunteered to visit the supermarket for the second time in a day she wanted to know what the attraction might be. "Are you guzzling those dark chocolate sea salt bars again? Are they part of the fitness surge?" I reply that I am simply trying to add steps to my pedometer and I encouraged her to write a shopping list that should include some hard-tofind items in the Co-op so that I could walk up and down the aisles searching, searching, clocking up the steps. So off I went to purchase 'Gluten and wheat free oat and fruit muesli' and 'Easy On spray starch'. Good. Lots of steps to find those.

But the Co-op in Porthcawl is not like that. You simply stand as still as Lot's wife and look lost. A helper always takes pity and arrives in seconds before leading you with the minimum of movement to your destination.

Climbing stairs? Yes, we have quite a few stairs in the house so I should be ticking along nicely there, but, looking ahead, I guess the Big Breaker will be the golf.

The course at Porthcawl is 7065 yards long from the back tees, so it is easy to consider it as a giant's walk of four miles and over. Five miles is about 10,000 steps on the pedometer, but it is seaside land often ruled by the winds that send the golf ball miles off course.

This means walking the long way around while trying to find the ball in wide detours through knee-high grass. This may be life in Slow Steps but I will explore.

Anticipating that reminds me of an ex-army secretary we had at Porthcawl who used to set off at every sunrise, gun tucked under his arm, prepared to shoot at anything that moved among the colony of rabbits. "Like Rorke's Drift", was his favourite description. "Shoot one and a hundred more pop up".

I recall asking him if it was permitted to shoot rabbits on golf courses.

"Not popular," he agreed "But either I shoot the rabbits or the odd member.

I'd prefer it was a member, but there you go..."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Aug 13, 2016
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