Back in early Spring this year an email popped into our 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, we had become a bit slipshod about getting up from our desks and moving. Maybe this could be the very thing to buck up our ideas! A quick email to colleagues and we had a team.
The first week a baseline of our current step count was what we were looking for, something for goals to be built from. 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 around the hospital grounds and came to appreciate the beautiful green space around us. We parked further away from the hospital than the staff carparks and walked 15 minutes into 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.
Monday morning brought the added interest of taking note of other team members step count which served as a motivator to keep moving. 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 slowly but surely built walking into 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 bene ts too. Another keen network member (Morven Lean, working at Keech Hospice, south of the border) also gave us a report of her workplace’s experience of the Step count challenge…
Awkward, ‘office language’ encrypted emails were replaced with real-life human voices when colleagues started to physically walk across the corridor (12 steps) to ask questions and give updates.
Delivering expenses forms to the Finance Department on the third oor (+150 steps) became a favourite pastime of mine, although I regularly experienced colleagues offering to run my errands for me (provided they were over 100 steps).
The ‘afternoon food coma’ became a thing of the past when we incorporated a daily brisk walk (500 steps) into our lunch break. Leaving the building liberated us to explore other avenues of conversation besides the tasks and moans of the working day.
Walking meetings’ (+1000 steps) also rose in popularity, until the weather decided otherwise.>I noticed that my office printer became something of a social hub for colleagues from the other side of the building (130 steps) despite there being three printers closer to them.
The positive effects of employing a physically active workforce on the organisation e.g. reducing staff sick days/ reducing staff turnover are well-documented. However, the step count challenge brought about all sorts of unanticipated changes in us, the employees, which have impacted our working lives for the better.
This article was originally published in The SCPN Newsletter Volume 7, Issue 4. Read the digital newsletter below using Issuu, or feel free to download the PDF.View the PDF
Our final newsletter of 2016 contains something a little different for us - a themed issue on workplace health. We cover public awareness of obesity as a risk for cancer, how workplace health has improved with the story of tobacco control and, implementing behaviour change in GP Practices.