Dr Nick Tupper’s blog: walking tall

047I’m a firm believer in the health benefits of regular exercise, and that you don’t have to be a member of a gym to keep fit.

Walking more, whether it’s for work or leisure, is an easy way of being more active without trying too hard.

Setting a target of walking 10,000 steps a day can be a fun way of increasing the amount of physical activity you do without trying too hard. It seems a lot, but you’ll be surprised how quickly the steps mount up when you start counting them.

Walking can help you build stamina, burn excess calories and give you a healthier heart.

If you want to start walking more, there’s a local exercise campaign called Get Doncaster Walking, which is encouraging local people to step out by joining organised walks across the Borough.

It’s a superb way of getting exercise, socialising and seeing some wonderful local scenery.

Author Mark Twain reportedly said that golf was “a good walk spoiled”. I disagree. I’ve just taken up the sport and find it’s a great way of enjoying a walk.

At NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, we encourage our staff to take regular exercise and we recently launched a new scheme to make it a bit of fun as well.

We have given a pedometer to every member of staff who requested one so they can keep a tally of how far they walk every day.

Eager to be competitive, it triggered a competition to see which team of staff could walk the furthest distance in four weeks.

I was asked to hand out prizes for various category winners and was amazed at the total number of steps that had been amassed by the 10 teams, which each had five members, with some 50 people taking part.

They collectively clocked up over 14.4 MILLION steps in a month, which is approximately 6,000 miles – the distance from Doncaster to Beijing in China.

It works out at an average of over a quarter of a million steps for every one who took part.

The individual star was Emma Smith, who notched up an impressive 527,271 steps.

The key point is that it shows how a simple idea can take off when people like it and get behind it. It involves a little bit of organisation, but the result is a lot of fun.

The 50 staff who took part account for half of our workforce. Imagine if that was replicated across businesses operating in Doncaster?

My challenge to local employers is, why not follow our lead and see if your workforce are willing to back the get Doncaster walking campaign?

An active workforce is a healthy workforce, so the benefits to businesses are well proven.

Doncaster currently has the unwelcome status of being the second fattest place in England. It’s a title we need to walk away from.

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