Wigan Borough Steps Up


THEY’VE walked, they’ve run, climbed stairs and climbed mountains — all in the bid to become Wigan Borough’s best steppers.

Teams from all over the borough have been stomping their way to better health through a step counting competition. And when it comes to a fun way of keeping active, you could say that this fitness challenge really was a walk in the park.

As part of Wigan’s Wellfest celebrations, Inspiring healthy lifestyles threw down the gauntlet to organisations to put forward teams of five to take part in their great Step Challenge.

Competition organiser Rob Mentha explains: "The challenge was to get the teams to track their movement over four weeks. It was designed to get people moving more often and to show them how physical activity can be integrated into their daily lives."

The challenge ran throughout October and Inspiring healthy lifestyles provided activity trackers for the contestants to use. The information was downloaded through a smartphone app, allowing teams to track their progress and see how they were faring against others.

In total there were 82 teams all vying to take the most steps and record as much movement as possible during the challenge. There was also an individual challenge of completing at least 70,000 steps in one week - which 98 people achieved.

And when the dust had settled and the steps had been counted, the teams had notched up an amazing total score of more than 54 million steps.

That’s the equivalent of 27,000 miles or walking the length of 475,200 football pitches!

The team with the most steps was the IT Girls from Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) who notched up more than two million.

Team member Helena Overend also took the title of best individual stepper with a personal total of 729,185.

Helena said: "We have already completed one step challenge this year and won, so when Inspiring healthy lifestyles asked us to take part in this one we jumped at the chance. We are really competitive as a team and we kept each other going throughout the four weeks. Most of us are really active anyway, some of us go to the gym regularly and one of the team is a keen dancer, so it was easy for us to build up the steps."

"It’s amazing how much a little bit of extra effort can make a difference to your health and confidence and it’s also brought us closer as a work team. We’re now looking forward to the next step challenge — bring it on!"

The other team to be recognised as part of the challenge was Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) Run You Fools.

This plucky team took top place in the most improved category after recording a 173 per cent increase in steps between the second and third weeks of the challenge.

For most of the team, walking to work, using the stairs and taking a stroll over lunch was enough to give them a boost. But for stepper Julie O’Malley, the challenge threw up an opportunity to take the high road to the Cairngorms.

"We go to the highlands every year and it just so happened that our trip fell in the middle of the challenge," said Julie. "It was great to be in open air and walking through the countryside. We spent a lot of the time visiting a reindeer sanctuary on foot so this was a great way to build to build up our steps."

Julie added: "When I was back in the office I made a point of using the stairs each day rather than the lift and walking to meetings rather than using the car. It all really made a difference."

Both teams picked up a trophy for their endeavours and every team that took part will be entered into a raffle with prizes donated by Inspiring healthy lifestyles, Wigan Council, the CCG and WWL.

Wigan Boroughs’ Director of Public Health, Professor Kate Ardern, congratulated everyone who took part.

"This was a fantastic competition that has really captured everyone’s imagination," she said. "It’s great that so many people in our borough were up for this challenge and have completed a fantastic number of steps. It proves in a fun way that becoming more active has real benefits. It doesn’t have to be hard work and take up lots of time, you can easily put it into your daily routine through walking more. "Crucially any increase in activity can have real benefits for your health and wellbeing. It can drastically reduce your risk of getting a serious illness such as heart disease, stroke or type two diabetes. On top of this, being more active improves your mood, helps you sleep and is a great way of reducing stress."

If you feel you would benefit from a little bit more activity in your life, contact Inspiring healthy lifestyles on 01942 488481 or email wellbeing@ihlmail.org to find out if you qualify for a free activity tracker.

Last updated: 15 December 2017
The Clinical Commissioning Group’s (CCG’s) Team "Run You Fools" was awarded most improved category in this year's Steps Challenge.