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You may recall a few months back we ran a stand-alone Step Count Challenge for the Macmillan More More Scotland programme. The challenge targeted health and social care staff from a number of organisations who support people affected by cancer. Emma Berry, Paths for All’s Senior Development Officer, has written the following report on the challenge.

What is Move More Scotland?

Macmillan’s Move More Scotland programme is delivered in partnership with Paths for All in various areas across Scotland, including Aberdeen, Glasgow, Fife, Dundee, Edinburgh and Borders.

Move More Scotland offers a range of opportunities to support anyone affected by cancer to become more physically active through a variety of local opportunities including, walking groups, community gardening, gentle movement classes and group activity classes. All programmes are free and are specifically tailored to meet the needs people living with and beyond cancer regardless of their age, gender or ability.

Why walking is beneficial for people living with and beyond cancer?

When you’re living with or after cancer, physical activity can help you make a positive change to your life. That’s why Paths for All are working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support to support those affected by cancer to become more active by walking.

Walking is a safe, free activity that is easily accessible as no special equipment is required. It has the lowest contraindications to exercise and has been shown to alleviate consequences of cancer treatment by reducing the feeling of fatigue and the decline in physical function.

Most dramatically, walking has been shown to decrease the risk of certain cancers returning by up to 40% and reduce the risk of developing other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis and obesity.

Move More Step Count Challenge

This spring Paths for All, in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, has been supporting health and social care staff to engage in physical activity by taking part in their own bespoke 8 week Step Count challenge.

Why did we do a Step Count Challenge?

There is a growing evidence base supporting the role of physical activity during and after cancer treatment. Therefore we wanted to offer Health and Social Care staff, including all Macmillan professionals, an opportunity to take part in a bespoke Step Count Challenge.

This challenge not only encouraged participants to become more physically active in their workplace, but also allowed us to promote our Move More Scotland programme, provide information on the latest evidence, research and resources on physical activity and cancer and encourage local signposting to any local Move More scheme through weekly update emails.

How many teams signed up?

Overall we had 93 teams participating throughout Scotland, with teams ranging from Dumfries and Galloway right up to the sunny Western Isles. Sign up was phenomenal and we had 419 health and social care staff taking part.

How did it go?

Over the 8 week challenge participants clocked up and impressive 233,220,122 steps which is the equivalent of 104, 492 miles or 4 times around the earth!

As previously mentioned a key aim of our Move More Step Count Challenge was not only to increase participant’s physical activity levels, but also to raise awareness of our Move More Scotland programme, information on the latest evidence, research and resources on physical activity and cancer and encourage local signposting to any local Move More scheme.

In order to measure if we had been successful in achieving the above aims we surveyed participants at week 1 and then again at week 8 and the findings can be seen below:

Results

What is the recommended amount of physical activity people aged 19 and over should do each week?

The correct answer to this question could have been answers a) 30 minutes x 5 days per week OR answer b) 150 minutes in total per week. At week 1 88% of participants answered this question correctly and at week 8 92% of participants answered this correctly, showing an increase of 4%.

Has our Move More Step Count Challenge increased your daily physical activity levels?

Out of the 69 participants who responded to this question, 91% reported that they felt by taking part in our Step Count Challenge they had in turn increased their own physical activity levels.

Do you have an increased awareness of the benefits of walking for those affected by cancer and the support Paths for All can offer locally?

In total 84% of respondents reported that they had an increased awareness of the benefits of walking and the support Paths for All can offer.

Are you aware of the benefits for those who have been affected by cancer in becoming more physically active?

Our survey showed at week 1 83% of participants were aware of the benefits for those affected by cancer in becoming more physically active, and 58% felt confident when speaking to clients about its benefits, however 42% shared that they didn’t feel confident or were unsure.

At week 8 when we asked again whether participants felt more informed of physical activity and its benefits and felt confident when speaking to clients. 65% reported that they felt more confident when doing so, showing a 7% increase.

Do you have an increased awareness of the Macmillan ‘Ask, Advise, Act’ brief advice for physical activity?

We wanted to ask our Move More Step Count Challenge participants whether they followed the Macmillan ‘Ask, Advise, Act’ brief advice for physical activity with their clients. At week 1 or survey showed that only 15% followed this framework and 50% of participants had never heard about it.

At week 8 we asked participants whether they felt by taking part in the challenge they now had an increased awareness of the ‘Ask, Advise, Act’ training available to them. 38% reported they had an increased awareness; however 62% are still reporting they are not aware of this, therefore a recommendation for the Move More Scotland team would be to increase awareness and access to this resource.

Are you more aware of Macmillan’s Move More Scotland programme?

We asked participants at week 1 how many were aware of the Move More Scotland programme. 47% of participants shared that although they were aware of the programme they currently don’t refer, and 26% said they were not aware of it at all. Only 18% noted that they were aware of the scheme and referred regularly.

At week 8 we asked this question again and 66% reported that they were more aware of the programme but again didn’t refer and 18% reported that they were aware and referred regularly.

We then asked in more detail why participants weren’t referring regularly and the following was reported. 38% felt it wasn’t part of their role, 27% said they didn’t know how to refer and 26% shared they don’t have a Move More programme locally to refer to.

Other comments which were submitted included:

“Physical activity is not always relevant”

 “I tell patients about it and advise them to get involved, but nobody has asked for a referral yet”

“Move More doesn’t apply to my area of work but good to know about”

Finally we asked participants to give us some feedback on how they found the challenge, what did we do well and what could we improve on?

Some answers have been listed below:

“I am a breast cancer survivor so I am quite excited by this initiative.  I see it helping me get back into exercise and get myself off the couch and definitely move more.  I have definitely made more of an effort since joining up.  It is good to be linked in with my colleagues also.  So a huge great big thank you for all that you are doing”

*****

“Overall a very well run challenge. It has allowed staff to think about their own health and wellbeing by increasing their activity, fun challenges as well. I have found all my queries to Emma Berry have been answered very promptly”

*****

“NHS Tayside is committed to supporting the value of PA throughout the cancer journey, and the Move More Step Count Challenge is contributing to the call to action for much more consideration for prescribing physical activity options including walking, gardening, strength and balance and social encounters” – Mary Colvin, NHS Tayside

*****

“The challenge was fun, motivating and it definitely increased my step count! Recording my steps on the online platform and seeing that I was meeting my weekly increasing target was the most motivating aspect”

*****

 “A great challenge to build up team spirit in the office and it definitely has made me get out and walk more! I really liked the website for logging your activity too – very easy to use and read”

*****

“The challenge was an excellent way to engage with those involved and I would like to see this rolled out as part of Paths for All and Move More on a regular basis for participants to use”

*****

“I really enjoyed this. I am not the fittest person but it made me more aware of how little changes can make a big difference.  I continue with the changes I made during the challenge”

 

Our Macmillan Move More Step Count Champion!

Just like our national challenge we asked participants of the Move More challenge to nominate a Step Count Champion.

When we received the nomination below from Hazel Ednie (Active Living and Seniors Programme Manager at Dundee University) for Maggie Munro, a Move More Dundee participant, we knew we’d found our champion.

Maggie was diagnosed with cancer in 2015 and started treatment in May 2015. The impact of treatment had a big impact on Maggie’s wellbeing and day-to-day life including weight loss and muscle strength, low fitness, fatigue, low confidence and mood. Despite all of this, Maggie took part in the challenge, showed progression, dedication and in Hazel’s words, “been buzzing from taking part”.

Maggie told us – “My cancer nurse referred me to Move More Dundee and I’d heard about the importance and benefits of exercise when living with and beyond cancer. I decided this was for me, to get myself as strong as possible to deal with cancer. I thought the benefits of exercise far outweighed doing nothing.

“I used to walk but I dawdled! So I also decided to walk more as well as attend the gym and classes for strength exercises. I enjoy walking and listening to my music, just being in the moment and taking control of what I am doing.

“The difference I feel now to eight weeks before the challenge is great. I feel fitter, stronger, happier and I get my breath back much, much quicker than I did last year at this time. Your confidence is improved too. I find hills are quicker and are no longer a problem for me. I walk most places – to the shops, my appointments, to meet friends and it is now second nature for me.

“I signed up as part of the Move More Dundee University team, it seemed a great chance for me to see just how much walking I could do and it was great fun.”

Conclusion and recommendations

Overall our first Move More Step Count Challenge has been a success, with participants showing an increase in their own physical activity levels, feeling more confident when speaking to clients about physical activity and cancer and reporting an increased awareness of the Move More Scotland programme.

Moving forward Paths for All will pilot a local Move More Step Count Challenge in one of the existing areas, with a focus on increasing awareness and referrals to the programme, something which we struggle to do at a national level.

We are also planning another national challenge in early 2017, taking the learning from this recent challenge with the hope to have more of the Macmillan professionals network and wider health and social care staff engaged.