We all know we were made to move, and over the years, life’s become increasingly sedentary, where the norm is sitting in front of screens in some way, shape or form. That’s why every year we host The Walking Challenge. This year has been a little different and, along with the rest of the world, we had to change our plans. But to ensure we keep everyone moving we've launched STEPtember300.
STEPtember300 is here to give us a gentle nudge in a more active direction. When life feels a little too much, a stroll or brisk walk can really help. The benefits of being more active include:
- Mental health and wellbeing – moving pumps blood to the brain, increasing happy hormone production and delivery. If you’re in a pickle, walking can help problem solve, and even increase creativity if routes are switched up. It also lowers the risk of Alzheimer's and slows mental decline.
- Reducing hunger – stopping us eating when we’re not hungry and burning more calories.
- Improving circulation – always cold? Do a lap of the room, dynamic exercises like star jumps or just stand up and sit down a few times.
- Increases bone density – body weight activity is all we need to maintain bone density to prevent ill health now and in our future.
- Strengthens muscles – if you don’t use it; you lose it! And (bonus point) increases lung capacity for improved fitness.
The NHS states: A brisk walk is faster than a stroll – about three miles an hour. You can tell you're walking briskly if you can still talk but cannot sing the words to a song. Doing this each day will improve our overall wellbeing.
Where to start
A lot of us are more active than we realise, and if you move around with a phone in your pocket too, the likelihood is that your steps are being counted. Go on, check your health app for activity and see how many steps you’ve done so far today. 10,000 could be easier than you first thought. Or if you’ve got a ‘vintage’ pedometer from previous years, share pictures of the yellow lanyards out and about. Tag us in your social posts so we can see you. We love to see you taking part.
If you're not very active but are able to walk, increase your walking distance gradually this month. Try a safe walk around the block, then maybe twice in a few days, and go from there. No need to be Forrest Gump, just start upping the step count each day. Maybe by the end of STEPtember, you’ll be hitting so many more steps than you believed possible. Surprise yourself!
If you're not active because of a medical condition, find advice on exercising with a disability.
We’re up and out but we need to stay motivated
If you haven't signed up to the STEPtember300 email list, do it now. Fill in the form to make sure you're not missing out.
This month, we strive to make a habit of moving. Think of ways to include walking in your daily routine. Maybe you do a few laps of the room, or garden, while the kettle is boiling. Maybe you set an alarm reminder to go up and down the stairs a few times between meetings. Maybe you get up early and go for a fresh autumnal walk. Start the day as productively as you mean to finish it.
If you’re a runner, or active person anyway, let us know what you’re up to. The STEPtember300 movement is made up of brilliant people who love to celebrate and share everyone's achievements. Share your community spirit with everyone; it will be well received. Make a selfie video and upload it here. Here's your chance to be part of this great community.
Whether you listen to music, podcasts, audio books, or to nature, there's always something to listen to. Find our podcasts of stories of civil servants we’ve helped who have shared their story with you, the STEPtember300 community playlist, or even some news you’ve missed out on. Make use of the down time to get what you need from it. That’s where nature helps. Even if you plan long weekend rambles in the wild (see routes here) that can become a calming meditation as you stroll along a coastal path, or explore a forest.
The best thing about STEPtember300 is we’re a community and we’re doing this together, but pacing ourselves individually. Each year an army of thousands enjoy this activity – this year it's needed more than ever. There are some fabulous stories from previous walkers. Read their stories, quotes and testimonials here. (You can also share yours too).
There’s even a brilliantly active community in our private Facebook Group. If you haven’t joined yet, make a request. Find out who else is walking, what they’re up to, tips, techniques and tracks to enjoy.
Know that each step you take, this wonderful community takes with you, encouraging our own wellbeing development. Support us however you like. There is a suggested donation of £30 for taking part, or fundraise £300 – maybe more? Share your JustGiving links with us on socials so we can reshare on our platforms and help you hit your target.
You can also support us by reading emails, engaging with and sharing social media posts, following us on our platforms, enjoying our content, and sharing our messaging or campaigns with others to make them aware of the support potentially open to them. You could even recruit someone today to get them walking too. They can sign up by completing the form here.
Times have been tough and we’ve all felt it in one way or another – sometimes multiple ways. Know that the community is here as support and we’re here for you. Life happens, and it’s hard enough. When the strain becomes too much, share it with us and we will be there for you. Even if you leave the Civil Service or retire, know that you can still rely on us. We offer holistic help with multiple factors because we appreciate nothing is ever straight forward. That is exactly why we’re walking, raising awareness and funds, to enable us to support you, your colleagues and networks today and forever.
Together we march on.