My View, Nick Tupper: How we’re walking back to healthiness

Nick Tupper and NHS worker  Emma Smith, who won a competition for the number of steps she took
Nick Tupper and NHS worker Emma Smith, who won a competition for the number of steps she took

Iam a firm believer in the health benefits of regular exercise and that you do not have to be a member of a gym to keep fit.

Walking more, whether 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 will be surprised how quickly the steps mount up when you start counting them.

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

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

It is a superb way of getting exercise, socialising and seeing wonderful local scenery.

Author Mark Twain reportedly said golf was ‘a good walk spoiled’.

I disagree. I have just taken it up and find it is a great way of enjoying a walk.

At NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, we encourage 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.

It triggered a competition to see who could walk the furthest distance in four weeks.

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

They collectively clocked up more than 14.4 million steps in a month – about 6,000 miles, the distance from
Doncaster to Beijing in China.

It works out at an average of more than 250,000 steps for every one who took part.

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

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

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

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

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

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

n Find out more about walks at Walking in Doncaster

* Dr Nick Tupper, chairman, Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group