Walking challenge keeps NHS Ayrshire and Arran staff on track

Winning a month's free gym membership, pictured are members of Whistle Dixies Louise Pollock and Alison Potts (left)
Winning a month's free gym membership, pictured are members of Whistle Dixies Louise Pollock and Alison Potts (left)

Staff from NHS Ayrshire and Arran have not just gone the extra mile with a walking challenge – they have gone an extra 38,273 miles.

More than 260 staff formed 59 teams to compete in a Step Count Challenge - a workplace initiative by Scotland’s walking charity Paths for All to encourage people to be more active.

In just one month, 85,540,543 steps were taken, the equivalent distance of two round trips from Ballantrae, South Ayrshire to Australia.

The bespoke Step Count Challenge, which was held in September, aimed to raise awareness of Macmillan Move More North Ayrshire, Move More South Ayrshire and Move More East Ayrshire; a programme of physical activity support designed to help people affected by cancer to be active at a level that’s right for them.

Jillian Gebbie, Move More Development Officer in South Ayrshire said: “We received a great response from partner organisations entering the pan Ayrshire Move More Step Count Challenge. It has been great for encouraging team work, improving mental health and encouraging people to get away from their desks and brave the cold to get active. We look forward to welcoming more referrals into the Move More programme.”

By taking part in the Step Count Challenge, the three Move More services hope to raise the profile of physical activity and the benefits of walking for people affected by cancer among health and social care professionals and increase referrals into their programme.

A partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support and KA Leisure, East Ayrshire Council and South Ayrshire Council, Move More offers gentle movement classes, circuit-based activities, gardening and cancer friendly walks supported by Paths for All.

At the end of every Step Count Challenge, a winning team of five and a Step Count Champion is announced.

The winning team from this challenge, Whistle Dixies, were HR staff from University Hospital Crosshouse who managed a total of 3,137,902 steps.

Team captain Louise Pollock said: “We had a lot of fun doing this challenge. My strategy was to send my teammates WhatsApp messages if not every day then every other day. We knew we were on the leaderboard and then we started to realise we were contenders.

“For me, this was great for team building and camaraderie. I was new to the post and it was a great way for me to really integrate with the team.”

The challenge also crowned Sheila Welford, a social care worker at Montrose House Arran, its Step Count Champion. Sheila was nominated for encouraging her colleagues to enjoy the benefits of walking and log their steps on the online platform.

Sheila said: “I am over the moon. It is and should be our priority to encourage positive health and wellness among everyone but especially our health care workers. Being physically, emotionally and mentally healthy is the only thing that can keep us strong in carrying out our work. This challenge is awesome and I hope we can do it all over again.”

Macmillan Cancer Support has completed research which shows that physical activity can benefit patients at all stages of the cancer care pathway. Keeping active can improve survival rates, help maintain quality of life, improve sleep, have mental health benefits, reduce fatigue and risk of falls.

The activities, which are all free of charge, will not only help people cope with the side effects of treatment, but also provide people with an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation and reduce the loneliness and isolation that the disease can create for those affected.

To refer a patient or self-refer to the Move More South Ayrshire programme, click here or call 01292 612 624 or email macmillanmovemore@south-ayrshire.gov.uk

A national four-week Autumn Step Count Challenge also came to an end recently, involving over 400 teams of workmates from across Scotland encouraging each other to be more active during the working day.

For more information, visit www.stepcount.org.uk.