Dr Maureen Macleod, Scottish Cancer Prevention Network Fellow, shares how the Spring Step Count Challenge has helped to keep staff more active.
‘Back in early Spring this year an email popped in to my inbox – an invitation to take part in a workplace step count challenge. Now, we work in a cancer prevention environment so we have good knowledge of the importance of being physically active, and we do try to practice what we preach, but to be honest, I had become a bit slipshod about getting up from my desk and moving. Maybe this could be the very thing to buck up my ideas! A quick email round my colleagues and we very quickly put together a team of five female workers but no luck with the males amongst us.
‘Team name chosen – check, registration completed – check, but now we had to work out how we were going to record our step counts. One shiny Fitbit was purchased and a few pedometers were dusted off with one member sticking to her guns and using her phone as method of choice. We were all set!
‘Paths for All, the organisers, sent motivational messages and tips for success and before we knew it the start date had arrived. In the first week a baseline of our current step count was what we were looking for, something for goals to be built from and we set out with gusto. Most of us achieved our 10,000 steps per day as recommended for general health so our targets started about 13000- 14000 on three days a week. Surprisingly that wasn’t so hard to achieve – we went for walks at lunchtime round the hospital grounds and came to appreciate the beautiful green space around us. We met other groups of staff out for their lunchtime walks too. We parked further away from the hospital than the staff carparks and walked 15 minutes in to work and back out at the end of the day (an added bonus was a saving of £10 per week on parking charges!). We walked in the evening and at weekends – local neighbourhoods, beaches, mountains, anywhere that would get the step count ticking over.
‘Gradually our average step count crept up although one of our members quickly streaked ahead – a runner who took to the streets two or three times a week! Monday morning brought the added interest of taking note of other team members step count which served as a motivator to keep moving. On occasion there was some dodgy step count equivalence calculations being done to record for example an hour of country dancing in the wilds of the North West of Scotland. Gradually our goals increased in size and frequency – 15000 three times a week, 15000 five times a week, 16500 three times a week….and we managed to keep up. We were not in the league of most of NHS Ayrshire and Arran who must not have slept much over those eight weeks but we slowly but surely built walking in to our daily routine, it became second nature and we enjoyed it.
‘And since then……well lunchtime walking has survived, even over the wet summer that we’ve had and the guys have come along too. Cars are still parked further away too. We will keep up these good habits and feel the better for it! If you get the chance, go for it and you will reap the benefits too.’