Scotland’s workforce got moving in lockdown thanks to the Step Count Challenge

Open for free to homeworkers, key workers and furloughed staff, the challenge helped people through unprecedented times

A walker in Glasgow during lockdown

Workers taking part in our Step Count Challenge from across Scotland say the simple challenge to get them moving has helped them get through lockdown.

Homeworkers, furloughed staff, key workers and those shielding were among over 4200 people who signed up for May’s Step Count Challenge, which we adapted for a unique lockdown edition.

Over 930 teams of five workmates got together virtually and encouraged each other to move more in any way they could - from daily walks and home workouts to yoga and gardening.

Our post-challenge survey shows over 90 per cent felt the motivation of the challenge and the support of their team meant they could cope better with Covid-19.

Participants reported a deeper connection with nature, a boost in morale, fewer car journeys, more social contact and family time, and a welcome break from the pressures of working at home and home schooling.

Ian Findlay CBE, Paths for All’s Chief Officer said:

"The Step Count Challenge has always been popular but never has it been needed more than in these last weeks.

"For some people, it was the perfect motivation to go out for that daily walk or just have fun with colleagues while apart.

For others, it’s had a much more profound effect, from helping them deal with stress and anxiety to making isolating at home a little less lonely.

This just goes to show once again that moving more, and especially walking outdoors, should never be underestimated in what it can do for our physical, social and mental health.

I hope that this powerful endorsement of the many benefits of being more active during the working day will encourage businesses and organisations to explore the many ways we and our partners can help get their workforce moving.

Those who took part in the challenge have also commented about their personal experience of the Step Count Challenge during the pandemic.

Carolanne Mainland, a care home director from Inverness said:

This has been a life saver in some respects.

I am in the shielding category and have been working from home which has been difficult. My sleep pattern was getting out of kilter with lockdown, but the exercise helped. Whilst nature has always been an important aspect of my life, I have noticed so much more than before.

Ann-Marie Harper, a key worker from Argyll said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge; loved the walking which I aim to continue. Great for my mental health in the current climate, and I fell in love again with the area I live in. You never take the time to take in your surroundings, and that's what this challenge has done for me.”

One regular gym goer said the challenge had stopped them becoming a “demotivated couch potato” while a senior manager from Edinburgh said she had “priceless chats with her six-year-old during after dinner walks” that they had never taken before.

The nationwide Step Count Challenge runs twice a year and is just one of our workplace walking initiatives.

Organisations can also run month-long bespoke Step Count Challenges, forming teams among their own staff and receiving encouragement and support along the way.

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