A step in the right direction

News editor Charles Graham and reporters Lucy Hilton (centre) and Natalie Walker take a well-earned rest after completing the pedometer challenge
News editor Charles Graham and reporters Lucy Hilton (centre) and Natalie Walker take a well-earned rest after completing the pedometer challenge

HEALTH chiefs have stepped up a challenge to get Wigan walking.

Members of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group and Wigan Leisure Culture Trust (WLCT) Active Living are urging professionals across the borough, many of them desk-bound, to get more active this summer.

They are wanting teams of four who work in health based job (although there is nothing stopping anyone else doing it either) to wear a free pedometer every day in this time frame and record their steps.

So, of course, here at the Wigan Evening Post towers, we decided to take this challenge on, after all it can’t be that hard...right?

Some wise soul (Thomas Jefferson) once said: “Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” But usually, who really wonders - or even cares - about how far they have walked each day?

However, the pedometer challenge has made our team of four question our every movement.

I like to consider myself as pretty active, despite not being an avid gym-goer, I do enjoy hot yoga and summer walks.

But I wasn’t half as active as I thought. This challenge was set to test both the mind and the physical aspect of a person - and it certainly didn’t fail.

It’s always been my prerogative to park my car right near the supermarket entrance rather than walk the extra 100 yards.

And although I live just a short 20-minute walk to the town centre, I must admit driving there a lot (usually because I’m running late).

This was clearly reflected within a day of undertaking the challenge when my colleagues Natalie Walker, Andrew Nowell and Charles Graham all put me in the shade. Over the four days, starting Saturday morning, Charles clocked up an impressive 21 miles, which is 44,614 steps.

He said: “I followed my usual weekend routines with a four-mile route march each morning and there happened to be a further leg-stretch on the Sunday afternoon when the family trailed round shops in Liverpool. Roughly I did six and a half miles each day.

“The more sedentary weekdays still managed to have a couple of compensations: namely our quick but fierce lunchtime table tennis sessions which not only help avoid deep-vein thrombosis but also keeps me away from the dratted screen and phone for half and hour.

“End result: the equivalent of about two to three brisk miles.

“A Tuesday evening dash round the garden with a lawnmower after 11 hours at the office was a relief too.

“The slight disappointment came with the number of kilocalories I had burned with what amounts to just five miles short of a marathon: 1,363.

“That’s 700 short of a man’s daily food intake, isn’t it? Obviously your body (including your brain) burns energy in other ways than only for putting one leg in front of the other. Just as well, otherwise I’d be the size of a double-decker bus.”

Andrew, as predicted, pipped us all to the post and won the challenge (only marginally may I add) with 46,946.

This came after a weekend of trekking around our country’s capital in search of a pub.

Far behind the boys I came next with 34,234 steps. This was helped greatly with an hour’s walk around Haigh Hall on the Tuesday, and Natalie was last (but not least) with 31,677 steps overall.

I blame my lethargic state on Sunday for my lack of steps - that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

One thing’s for certain though, my attentions are now increasingly more drawn to how much I walk every day. Not only do I now have the pedometer to keep me on my toes, I have uncovered a specialist app on my phone to show me when I’m lagging behind.

And quite honestly, I’ve never felt better because of it.

Dr Tim Dalton, chairman of NHS Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We want staff from a variety of health settings across the borough, to show patients that, here in Wigan, staff practise what they preach and take part in the 2015 pedometer challenge.

“Last year we had an amazing response with over 70 teams entering but we want to better than that this year.

“It would be really great if this year we could also have some teams from Patient Participation Groups.”

The pedometer challenge 2015 will starts today and runs until Sunday August 2.

People with the most steps or who have most improved since last year will win prizes such as iPods, high street gift vouchers and WLCT gym passes.

For more information contact 01942 488487 or emailing activeliving@wlct.org.