Tesni Evans has gone from dodge walking to dog-walking in the time of the lockdown after learning the benefits of the great outdoors.
Wales’ top squash player – the current world number nine – has confessed she was not the most enthusiastic seeker of long walks before the sporting shutdown arrived in March.
But after discovering the benefits to mood and well-being from a springtime stroll, last year’s Manchester Open runner-up is now up and walking – with new pal Barney.
“I used to really, really hate walking,” admits Tesni. “I’d do anything rather than go out for a walk.
“I suppose it might be because as a squash player, we do 60 to 70 per cent of our training indoors and then compete indoors, too.
“But I have been doing a lot of walking near my home in north Wales since the lockdown and I’ve learnt to love it.
“We recently got a new puppy and so we’ve been using the time we’ve had away from squash to walk and train him and I’ve really felt the benefits of that.”
— Tesni Evans (@tesnievans) March 21, 2020
Medics, mental health experts and sports scientists have always stressed that regular walks can help with emotional health as much as it can provide physical fitness.
When the coronavirus restrictions first came in, walking became a mood-lifting lifeline for so many people of all ages and fitness levels – especially as those rules only allowed for one form of exercise per day.
But even though the revised regulations permit us all now to exercise as much as we like, provided we stay local, then simple walking – through town, city or countryside – remains the go-to choice for so many people.
Try it and you might well find that not only does it lift that dark cloud from over your head, but it brings clarity of thought, problem-solving, and even creativity.
And while your mood is lifting in the fresh air, you may even get extra benefit from being sociable with the neighbours you pass – provided, of course, you maintain the two-metres distance.
In fact, Tesni has two very simple tips for looking after your mental well-being in these anxious times – walking and talking.
“What really helps is talking to people and being honest with them about how you might be feeling,” says the 27-year-old from Rhyl, who divides her time between the north and south of the country when she is not jetting around the world playing tournaments.
“Sometimes, I have been waking up and feeling quite unmotivated. The squash season has come to a halt and no-one really knows when it is going to re-start.
“There is talk of September, but it’s all up in the air and that uncertainty can make it difficult to focus. Add in the news reports and things you read on social media and you can feel very uncertain about things.
“That’s when I make sure I talk honestly about how I’m feeling with the people close to me and who support me. I’m lucky in that my dad is also my coach, so I’ve been able to keep in touch with him all the time.”
Because she suffered an ankle injury that delayed her being able to start the current squash season back in January, Evans – who also plays league squash for the Cardiff-based Welsh Wizards – has not played a competitive match since last October.
That’s quite a stretch to someone used to being away from squash for only a short two-month spell each summer.
But the lockdown has forced her to count her blessings and learn to make the most of things.
Unfortunatley @ToCSquash was over very quickly for me this year! Gutted to start the year this way,but home now and time to get the ankle treated and recover as quickly as i can to get back on court as quick as possible! 🤞🏻💪🏻 pic.twitter.com/0VHTMnrtvy
— Tesni Evans (@tesnievans) January 14, 2020
“I usually spend nine months of the year away from home, playing in tournaments, but the truth of the matter is I’m a real home bird.
“This situation has at least enabled me to spend a lot of time back at home and I’ve been making the most of it.
“You have to look for positives. A lot of us will look back to this time and realise it had its benefits, because we weren’t rushing around for once.
“It’s easy to get a bit down on yourself when the negative feelings come, but then you remember that some people are in hospital with coronavirus, fighting for their lives, and that puts things into perspective.”