Does the Step Count Challenge really make a difference? It’s a question we often ask ourselves here at Paths for All and we know that participants often think about this too. This week’s Meet the Walkers story comes from Derek, who took part in the 2017 Step Count Challenge, and found that daily step counting became a habit after the challenge had finished.

“Don’t do what I did, but do do what I do!”

“Don’t do what I did.”

“Last year I took part in the Step Count Challenge, five or six teams from Erskine’s four Homes joined in, it was a topic of conversation and much enthusiasm abounded.”

“Prior to taking part in the challenge, when I worked in North Ayrshire H&SCP, I had been working up my steps, firstly 5k per day, then once I established that most days, I went up to 6k steps per day. By the end of 2016 I was managing 6k steps more than half of the week. Overall a sensible, pragmatic, at times challenging approach. Then came the spring time Step Count Challenge.”

Derek Barron 1

“Confession time – I can be quite competitive and determined when I have a goal I really want to achieve. Sometimes a good thing, but at other times not so much.”

“I drew together a team from the Executive group at Erskine. In our team of five a number of the team went to the gym daily (not me!) and others went for daily walks as part of their normal routine. So, I had to keep up with them (beat them?), they were all fitter than me and all took regular exercise.”

“Week one, the benchmark week, I did 20k steps per day, every day. I was sore (feet and knees), I was tired and generally less productive than normal. By week three I had shin splint in the left leg and was ‘quite’ sore – sensible person would have rested. One night at the end of week three I nearly phoned my wife to pick me up, I was only a quarter mile from my house but I could hardly walk. But, unfortunately stubbornness prevailed. Each week I aimed for 20k steps per day, with a stretch personal goal of 30k steps at least one day of the eight weeks (I managed it twice). During the challenge I loved the camaraderie, the posts on Twitter, following the leader board, listening to how others were getting on.”

Derek Barron 2

“By the end of week six I was fairly sick of it, however now the prospect of 1 million steps was within reach, so of course I kept with the programme, finished the challenge made my 1 million steps (and still came second in my team).”

“Sunday night, last night of Step Count Challenge, I posted my count for the day and lay down in a darkened room – no more counting steps for me #ever.”

“In most people’s world (except mine apparently) this was a foolish approach to the challenge, I had taken the fun out of it, which was never the design of the challenge – So don’t do what I did.”

“But- do do, what I do!”

“After a few days, where I only did 7 or 8k per day, I realised I missed the discipline of ensuring I exercised and I missed the general improvement in my personal wellbeing – I genuinely had an improved sense of well-being, my mental health improved knowing I had some focused self care time.”

“I set myself a challenge to do 10k steps per day for the next month, it was after all half of what I had been doing. That followed by a feeling that having done it for one month I could do it for two. It wasn’t always easy and at times I had to plan how I was going to achieve my steps – my wife was supportive as she could on occasions see when I was getting restless and she’d say ‘you haven’t done your steps have you?’ By the end of month six, using this stepped approach, I had altered my personal goal to ‘10k steps per day for a whole year’. I achieved that on Sunday past.”

Derek Barron 3

“What have I gained?”

“Firstly what have I lost – several stones in weight, with only minor changes to my diet; I still eat Tunnocks Tea Cakes!”

“I have been able to jog, not far, but I haven’t been able to do it for quite a few years, so 5 mins, became 10 mins and now I can manage around 3k – because I enjoy it, not because I have to.”

“Without doubt I have more energy and enthusiasm. I can play football with my grandsons (I’m fabulous at that – they don’t agree) and we can go out on our bikes and I can keep up with them!”

“Oh, I nearly forgot – I’ve dropped a waistcoat/ jacket/trouser size or two. I wanted to say dress size for comedic effect, but went with waistcoats.”

“If I can do it, you can do it.

So, do do what I did do,

And good luck.”