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The BBC's Louise Minchin: 'How I finally found my sense of adventure after 45'

The former BBC Breakfast presenter has been embracing thrill-seeking for ten years

21 hours ago
Louise Minchin stands in front of river in wet suit
Francesca Shillcock
Senior Features Writer
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As a broadcaster and successful author, Louise Minchin's career has undoubtedly been full of highs. But when it comes to a real sense of adventure and improving mental and physical wellbeing, taking on challenges and embracing the great outdoors is the key.

The former BBC Breakfast presenter, 55, sat down with HELLO! for an exclusive interview in which she discusses how her love of adventure, which she only embraced in the last ten years or so, has improved her overall wellbeing. She's now making it her business to persuade other women to do the same and embrace their second act in life.

"I didn't realise how important it really was to me," Louise said while discussing her new campaign with Intrepid Travel. "It gives me so much that I bring back into my life. 

I would describe it as a virtuous circle that I felt very lucky that I found, because I genuinely didn't have that in my life until I was about 45."

Louise Minchin © Intrepid Travel
Louise Minchin discovered her sense of adventure aged 45

And it's not only impacted her relationship with herself, the broadcaster explained how it's had a positive effect on her family life with her husband of more than 20 years, David, and their two grown-up daughters, Mia and Scarlett. 

"I'm much happier and more resilient. I'm also a less naggy mum if I've gone to do something that I really enjoy. It's 100 per cent helped my health. I'm a lot stronger than I was ten years ago. And as a 55-year-old woman, that can only be a good thing."

The sense of invigorated health is something that has a knock-on effect on Louise. "I feel I'm future-proofing my life in some ways. Because I'm fit now, I'll hopefully still be fit when I'm 65, 75, and so on. 

"My mental health is much, much better. It probably helps me sleep better, which also helps me to wake up feeling more refreshed."

Intrepid Travel found in their research that while 68 per cent of women would describe themselves as adventurous, a staggering 69 per cent have put off travel. Louise explains how it's perhaps down to a fear of being "selfish." 

She mused: "You can think travelling a selfish thing to do. But one of the things that has helped me most in my career with Breakfast and also with writing is taking some time out for myself."

Doing so needn't be a big task. Many people think an adventure requires long-haul foreign travel, large budgets and a thirst for daring physical challenges. "I've had some of my best adventures, in the UK within 50 miles of where I live," insisted Louise.

"It's one thing feeling more adventurous, and there's quite the other stepping out your front door and going to do it. It doesn't have to be in a far-flung place and it doesn't have to be hugely expensive either."

Louise Minchin during her triathlon© Intrepid Travel
Louise Minchin during her triathlon

But if extreme challenge is what you're after, then Louise would gladly join you. The broadcaster has ticked off plenty of impressive stints in recent years including the Patagonman triathlon in Chile, which required her to jump into dark water and swim two miles back to land before hopping on a bike to cycle 180 kilometres and then run a marathon.

Louise also qualified for the Great Britain Age-Group Triathlon Team in 2015 for the World Triathlon Championships in Chicago, and she's completed the Norseman triathlon, one of the toughest in the world of its kind.

It's her passion for extreme sport that she says has shaped her career in television, and the two have gone hand-in-hand when it comes to dealing with stressful or nerve-wracking situations. 

MORE: I went for a walk every day - here's what it did to my stress levels 

MORE: I took a 'grey gap year' at 51 – here's what I learned 

Louise Minchin pictured on a bike© steve ashworth
Louise Minchin has completed many triathlons

"When I'm in a difficult situation or scary or nerve-wracking situation at work, for example, like doing a really big interview, I think, 'Do you know what it's going to be OK because I've jumped in a dark ocean where all can do us swim. I am going to be OK'. So it gives me confidence and resilience."

Another big part of Louise's sense of adventure is the lack of women represented in wider media and travel television programmes as adventurers or thrill seekers.

"I've written a book called Fearless Adventures with Extraordinary Women for exactly that reason. We can't be what we can't see. I didn't see female adventurers being celebrated in the same way as I thought we did men. 

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"I've been pitching the idea of trying to get women-led on TV and it's just not happening. We all need role models who look different. I'm an endurance athlete so I'll keep trying."

Intrepid Travel has opened a free exhibition, 'AdventurHER', dedicated to shining a light on inspiring stories of female adventure. 

The AdventurHER: Travel Tales of Inspiring Women exhibition will be open from 19th - 21st April. For more information about the exhibition and the stories showcased, head to the website.

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