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Walking back to happiness! How locals benefit from Bognor beach amid Covid-19 crisis

Bognor residents say they are thanking their lucky stars that they live by the seaside as the nation tries to go about its business in the midst of the coronavirus crisis.

Government guidelines in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic suggest that people stay at home or only go outside for food, health reasons or work (but only if you cannot work from home). And when they do they need to stay two metres away from other people.

Health benefits of walking included increased cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness; reduced risk of heart disease and stroke; improved management of conditions such as hypertension (high blood pressure), high cholesterol, joint and muscular pain or stiffness, and diabetes as well as stronger bones and improved balance.

Included in reasons to go out is one exercise session a day and many Bognorians are taking to the beach to get their workout. And the sunny weather of late has meant many people are taking advantage of the coast, be it a brisk stroll or bike ride along the prom or walking on the sands when the tide is out.

The resort is regularly given the accolade of having more sunshine hours than any other spot in the country — and this week’s abundance of rays has certainly helped people’s mood as they try to avoid going stir-crazy as the lockdown restricts their once normal activity away from their homes.

Felpham resident Gary Smith, a retired bank worker, says the wide-open spaces afforded walkers on the prom and on the beach mean the government guideless can be adhered to with ease. He said:

“We’re aware that social distancing is vital if we are to get over this thing and, on my morning, walk along from Felpham into Bognor Regis along the prom I see a few people. But everyone is so respectful in terms of the distance we keep between us. The sunshine helps the mood greatly. It makes you happier! We’re so very lucky to be by the coast. I could not stand being cooped up in a city and not being able to stretch my legs at such a wonderful location.”

Sue Cole, a care worker, says she takes advantage of nearby Pagham Harbour to get her fix of exercise and fresh air. She added:

“How fortunate are we to live somewhere that has this on its doorstep? You can stay safely isolated and at the same time get the exercise you need and get a super snapshot of the wonders of the natural wonderland that exists at the harbour.”

And Natalie Boltwood, a dental nurse, said she hoped that the nation’s health and fitness would ultimately benefit once the pandemic was over:

“I’ can’t be sure but because people are having to stay at home more they are really enjoying their exercise and once we can get back to normal I think many will carry on with their walking workouts and it could help with our long-tern national well-being.”

Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge
Carl Eldridge is a hugely experienced journalist who has worked on local and national newspapers, magazines and written for websites over the past 30 years. He lives in Bognor Regis with his wife and son.