“It’s a great way of committing to do something, and keeping a promise to improve your health.”

Many people know that being physically active is good for your health, however many people also know that it’s common for life to get in the way. Work, family, friends and other commitments often leave us with little time and energy for exercise.

Nevertheless, just 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity a day for 5 days a week will benefit health. Moderate intensity activities include a brisk walk, cycling or swimming, and for vigorous intensity activity such as running, just 75 minutes of activity per week will leave you feeling healthier. The health benefits of physical activity include improved sleep, reduced stress, and a reduction in risk of a range of common diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast and colon cancers.

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(all statistics from “Start Active, Stay Active: A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries’ Chief Medical Officers”, Department of Health, 2011)

Taking part in the Step Count Challenge is one way to motivate yourself to be more physically active, as Lyndsay found out when she took part in 2015. Read her walking story below to find out how walking more left her feeling healthier and encouraged some fun amoungst work colleagues.

Lyndsay

“My obsession with walking started in 2013. My Dad bought me a Fitbit as a novelty gift from his holiday in the USA. I had never used a pedometer before. Once I clipped it on, I was hooked. I continually tried to beat my daily step count. I decided to clean up my diet and this, combined with my walking, helped me lose four stone within 18 months! To this day I use walking as my “cardio” exercise to maintain my weight.

“I was delighted when the University of St Andrews decided to encourage staff to try the Step Count Challenge in 2015. This is what I had been waiting for – an opportunity to show off my “walking skills”! My team (FASt… Not Last!) had a lot of fun and we have competed every year since. Our enthusiasm must have rubbed off on other colleagues as the university now has 78 teams competing this year compared to only nine teams in 2015. Within my office, we will compare step counts and share stories of how we managed them. Most people are amazed when I tell them my step count and use it to compare how well/badly they are doing.

“It’s not easy having a full-time desk job and trying to find time outside these hours to fit in walking. I am lucky in that I live only 10 minutes from my office and can therefore walk to and from work. I always go for a 40 minute walk at lunchtime and a larger 90-120 minute walk most evenings. If you add on walking to meetings during the day and quick trips back and forth to the printer/kitchen, you can accumulate a decent step count. Then comes the weekend when I can go walking-mad if the weather is nice and I have the stamina.

“My greatest achievement to date is reaching 71,019 steps in one day. That took me nine hours but it was a glorious sunny Sunday. The Step Count Challenge really spurs me on and has seen my competitiveness go through the roof. I can’t bear it when somebody achieves a better step count than me. My team mate Alain managed over 50,000 steps in one day in 2015 and I was determined to match or beat that… I succeeded! The following year I managed over 60,000 steps. This year, I decided to push myself to get 70,000 steps – my determination paid off. Alain has been such a big influence on me that I’ve now signed up to participate in my very first “Edinbra” MoonWalk.

“Walking has really changed my life for the better. I’m so grateful the Step Count Challenge exists. Without it, I wouldn’t keep my determination to improve my step count year on year and I wouldn’t have been able to encourage so many others to enroll and enjoy the benefits of walking too.”