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Health is so precious.. so let’s run for it: Jackie Bird on her daily exercise regime and why working-out is essential for body and mind

Jackie Bird
Jackie Bird

Now that the empty bottles have been recycled, the decorations stored, and the daily commute beckons, many of us will hope to step into 2020 with a positive outlook, new goals and aspirations.

And Jackie Bird is no different – although she’ll probably run into the new decade, rather than walk.

The ultra-fit 57-year-old has been lacing up her trainers and hitting the pavements since her late 20s, and admits keeping fit and healthy has become a key part of her weekly routine.

As well as running twice a week, Jackie also visits the gym three times, does spin classes and swims.

And despite all those hours dressed in Lycra, burning calories and getting stronger, the veteran newsreader is still keen to impress that she’s no fitness guru – keeping fit is just something she loves, that has become a big part of her life.

She explained: “Sometimes if you talk about the fact that you keep fit, you are implying that you’re good at it. I’m not good at it. I do it and I enjoy it. But I would hate to set myself up as some sort of paragon of fitness. I just think it’s beneficial, and it’s good
for the body and for the mind. It’s a habit that’s become part of my routine.”

Jackie running for Sports Relief

Fitting training in around her busy schedule, Jackie also runs half-marathon events and has even competed in triathlons, but she says her dedication to fitness has caused more than a few injuries over the years. “I’ve done half-marathons, but never a full marathon. I know too many people who have done the full 26.2 miles and ended up injured for life – and I’m injured enough already,” she joked.

“My legs are always strapped up because I have hamstring problems, and I had an elbow operation about three months ago. I gave myself tennis elbow in both elbows… But not by playing tennis.

“The body does remind you when you’ve been doing things for a very long time. All the fellow fitness fanatics of my age are strapped up and carrying injuries. We can spend hours moaning about how achy we feel, but we still keep running anyway.

“It’s a good feeling to be fit. I just think we’ve been given a body and we should use that body. We should get out, walk, climb and do as much as we possibly can because our body and health is such a precious thing.”

With more than three decades of running, and countless miles under her belt, Jackie’s advice for new runners is simple; there’s no time like the present, and age should be no barrier.

She explained: “There’s a chap that runs some of the same routes I do. He stopped during his run one day, and we got chatting. He was doing sprints so I asked if I could join him and he said yes. He went so far and so fast that he lost me. The point is, he was about 70 then and I still see him running today. He must be in his early 80s and he looks just great. It’s all about just getting out there.”

Jackie with Judy Murray

As well as helping to keep her body looking and feeling fantastic, Jackie admits there is another health benefit to the many hours she spends running, walking and keeping fit.

Just like sitting down to read a book or taking the time for mindfulness, Jackie says running – or even just walking – can help to boost your brain.

“Running is great for the mind – it’s mind medication,” she said.

“I would encourage everyone to just get out there and walk. There are so many people suffering stresses these days, and often it wouldn’t occur to them to just put on some warm clothing and walk a mile or two.

“I say find a green belt, find some fields, and just take a walk while listening to the bird song. It might sound like something out of The Waltons, but it is just so beneficial.”

What’s more, Jackie says some of her best ideas come when she’s putting one foot in front of the other.

She explained: “I tend to think and come up with ideas when I’m running – I’m not running fast and I’m not running well, so I’ve got plenty of time to think.

“If I was a better runner I would probably clear my mind and think just about running, but I use it for coming up with ideas.”