When the first University step challenge was set up, several people in the Centre for Learning & Teaching jumped at the opportunity. This lasted six weeks and was so successful they did it again the following year. Some years it included following a virtual map route across the UK or across Europe based on how many steps your team of five had done each week. This was great fun.
Sadly, a University-wide challenge isn’t organised any more but since then some people in the CLT team have done their own challenge each spring (we currently have about four people who are taking part this year).
There are many reasons for doing a challenge – it makes you aware of how many steps you do each day and can be quite enlightening. The first time I did it I realised my weekly steps Mon-Fri were well above the Government recommended amount of 10,000 (I regularly do 15-17,000 steps a day mostly walking to and from bus stops – I refuse to take a bus for a journey of under 20 minutes unless it is pouring with rain!). However, at the weekends I am a complete couch potato and, unless I make myself go out for a walk, my steps can amount to no more than a few thousand.
Other reasons include: good for your health, lowers blood pressure, gets you out in the fresh air and sunshine, eases your vision if you spend much of the day staring at screens whether they be computer, ipad, phone or TV, helps keep osteoporosis at bay, helps manage your weight and so on.
One of the reasons I love our annual step challenge is that I get out exploring – every evening after I get off the CityZap in York I take a different route home. I even discovered Chapman’s Pond after one year (I didn’t know I had a pond! Actually it was named after a local farmer, no relative). I’ve even visited counties in the UK I’ve never been to before – and only have one county to go. And I found a lovely walk along the River Foss from York to Haxby (a walk of about 6-7 miles taking you through some beautiful countryside – from there I get a bus back to town) – see photo of the river.
Another colleague who has been doing the challenge for four years now found she only walked just 6-7,000 steps a day. Since then she bought a Fitbit that also monitors heart rate and sleep patterns and now routinely walks 10-15,000 steps a day. Some of her ‘explorations’ have included walking up Snowdon and through the Derbyshire countryside. She is planning to go up Scafell Pike very soon.
When it was a University-wide challenge we found ourselves becoming very team-focussed (and competitive – I think we were something like 4th best team one year!). One member of the team, whilst on holiday in Portugal during the challenge, went out walking in the rain because she didn’t want to let the team down.
Even though the Uni doesn’t organise step challenges any more, the Safety, Health & Wellbeing team do run weekly lunchtime walks lasting 30 minutes on either campus (Tuesdays at city led by me, and Thursdays at Headingley – please get in touch with either myself, Deb Chapman, for more information on the city walks, or Leigh Beales in the SHW team for Headingley walks). Apart from getting away from your desks it also gives you the opportunity to meet other people or even have time to relax with members of your own team (see photo with Lyn, another member of CLT).
My personal goal every year during the step challenge is to walk 1 million steps – this means averaging around 24,000 a day. Totally doable from my point of view since my starting point is the 15-17,000 steps a day I previously mentioned – add to that going out for a 30 minute walk each lunchtime which nets around 4,000 steps, taking the stairs rather than the lift at work, a longer walk home in the evenings adding another 2-4,00, maybe a run on the treadmill, or jogging around the house when the adverts are on.
It certainly pays off. After a recent bone density scan earlier this year I was told that I had excellent bones and I was better than 95% of people my age (58). All those years of walking have paid off.
Centre for Learning and Teaching