By Katie Walter
Friday, 30 August 2019
Dr Kate Walter is a GP in Inverness and she works hard to encourage and help her patients to cycle. She explains how seeing cycling help her long term patient Mick Heath, led to her to promote cycling, then create WheelNess and other projects to share the health benefits and joys of cycling.
I love my job as a doctor. Truly, every day I go to work, I feel very, very lucky.
I work in a rubbish crumbling Victorian building with manky brown carpet tiles that curl round the edges. I work 12 or 13 hour days. I routinely forget to pee. I even more frequently forget to have more than a pint of fluid in a day, which might explain the peeing. I regularly have a duff lunch. I not infrequently get shouted at (but not anything like as often as the reception staff). I almost invariably come in on my days off to catch up on paperwork.
But I still love my job. What motivates me to come to work? The jokes, the folk, and being a tiny, tiny cog in the great big NHS.
I’m a GP in a large ‘inner city’ practice. You have to take inner city with a pinch of salt, as the rapidly expanding city of Inverness still feels like a town. Don’t get me wrong, with nearly 10,000 patients we see our fare share of deprivation. It’s a leafy town, and that sometimes camouflages poverty. And as a GP, deprivation and poverty are most definitely my business, as the single biggest risk factor for illness and death: Scotland is still the country in which your life expectancy can have a 13 year gap depending on your postcode.
I won’t bore you with the evidence behind this, but it is there. Cycling and walking can help. Cycling, even if it is in a car-laden city rather than the capital of the Highlands, is good for your physical and mental health. Walking is too by the way, and we tend to try to encourage both walking and cycling together as a practice.
Walking and cycling are good for your health, but they are also good for your community, and in these times of climate emergency, they may be the one wee step we can make as individuals to make our planet healthier as well. If you want an easy digest of facts and fiction around cycling , read cycling fallacies.