Pictured: The first 3 participants in Lewis and Harris to complete the ‘Walk 500 Miles Step Count Challenge’ were Murdo Maciver (2nd), Jane Bain (1st) and Sarah Marnoch (3rd)
Benefits of walking in Outer Hebrides this summer
Walking is the simple way to increase your physical activity levels. It’s an all round great activity for all ages and fitness levels, which can improve your health, help you lose weight, make you feel good and most importantly it’s free!
The ‘Walk 500 Miles Step Count Challenge’, launched by NHS Western Isles’ Health Promotion Department and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sport and Health Division on 5th May, encouraged both individuals and teams of three from the Butt to Barra aged 18 years and over to participate.
Through a Bronze, Silver and Gold challenge, individuals or teams of three could choose to walk a total of 7,500, 10,000 or 12,500 steps a day.
Over 350 people across the islands registered for the challenge and at the end of week six, four participants had completed the challenge, 10 had less than 100 miles to go, 132 had passed the half way point and since 5th May, 67,000 miles of walking had been logged! That’s almost three times round the World - an amazing achievement for all involved!
However, this was a step count challenge with a difference. An innovative telehealth text messaging system (Florence or ‘Flo’) was piloted by NHS Western Isles as a tool to measure activity for a step count challenge.
This allowed participants to log step counts daily and receive weekly motivational and informative messages from ‘Flo’. Whilst this approach in monitoring physical activity levels was new to NHS Western Isles, Florence has been established locally as a successful home health monitoring tool with local diabetic and cardiac patients able to text in their blood glucose, blood pressure and weight readings.
Jane Bain, from the Isle of Lewis, entered the challenge as an individual and was the first person to complete it.
When asked what she thought about her experience, Jane said “I’m really chuffed at finishing first! The Walk 500 Miles Challenge was a good incentive to get everyone up and walking about more.
“It was also a good conversation piece - whether friendly banter in competition, or advice and tips to help each other reach the daily goals. It also gave me a new item for my 50 new things to do before I turn 50!”
The ‘Walk 500 Miles Step Count Challenge’ is ongoing throughout summer for participants and if you’re not signed-up, why not set yourself a challenge to try and walk a little bit more!