NHS Shetland takes a step in the right direction

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AN NHS workplace has been awarded a walking accreditation for the support staff have received during a bespoke challenge and for creating an active workplace culture.

30 NHS Shetland employees completed Scottish walking charity, Path for All’s [PFA] Step Count Challenge racking up a cumulative 15,069,748 steps over four weeks.

The workplace took part in the bespoke challenge designed to encourage staff to take a break throughout the working day and get out for a walk, achieving a Walk at Work Award in the process.

The Walk at Work Award aims to reverse the trend of sedentary workplaces and the accreditation supports businesses in tackling issues of staff wellbeing and corporate carbon footprint, while enhancing productivity.

Employers receive one-to-one support on how to create a walking culture at work as well as examples of best practice and where to find extra help and resources

Sustrans Scotland’s Gareth Davies, a project officer based with NHS Shetland, said: “PFA’s Walk at Work Award has proved to be a really helpful guide for us to better facilitate walking, which can contribute to increased wellbeing among staff.

“We have been able to utilise many resources provided for by PFA and this has really given us an impetus to carry on promoting walking and to enter in future step count challenges to come.

“Through the initiative we have looked at ways to encourage walking for staff, such as active travel information on inductions, daily mile suggestions and hi-viz packs for community nurses who are out and about.”

NHS Shetland recently introduced a transformative policy change which allows staff, in appropriate departments, to wear their uniform during lunchtime walks. The initiative was inspired by staff and planned with senior management and the infection control team.

This combination is hoped to motivate staff to get their steps up and some fresh air during lunch times, and so boost mental and physical wellbeing.

Gareth added: “We had positive feedback from staff on the Step Count Challenge with many highlighting it gave them motivation to get out every day for exercise and to clear their heads during what’s been a challenging time.

“We would thoroughly recommend other workplaces looking to take part in the Step Count Challenge and the Walk at Work Awards to do so.”

Organisations across the country, including large-scale businesses such as the Scottish Ambulance Service, Commonwealth Games Scotland, and Queen Margaret University, are utilising the Step Count Challenge and the Walk at Work Awards.

The call to action for businesses to encourage an active workforce comes as it is revealed many adults are sedentary for large portions of the working day. Employers must take action to reduce inactive behaviour and improve health and wellbeing.

Frances Bain, Walking for Health Manager at Paths for All, said: “The workplace is where the majority of us spend a great deal of our time, whether it be at your adapted new ‘home office’ or in the office during more normal times, it’s incredibly important that staff take a break from the screen and employers put wellbeing at the forefront of their mind.

“Walking is one of the simplest and best things we can do for our physical and mental health. It’s free, you don’t need any special equipment, and it can be easily incorporated into the average working day.

“The accreditations and challenges help businesses put their staff’s health and wellbeing at the heart of what they do whilst making exercise fun.

“The bespoke challenges are tailored to a business’s own teams, while our Walk at Work Awards gives employers the chance to earn a recognised accreditation – with support throughout the whole process.

“Walking can connect people socially in many ways, whether that be virtually or meeting with one other person socially distanced outdoors, the benefits of physical activity go beyond health.

“We all need to play our part in helping to make the nation healthier and happier, in both a work and personal sense”.

The Step Count Challenge is made up of teams of five and has one simple aim of encouraging people to walk more to feel happier and healthier, with participants having access to leader boards, goal setting and team chat to keep them motivated and connected.

Businesses can register a team of five for just £30 – and can customise their own challenges with tailored branding and personalised messaging.

A nationwide Step Count Challenge, which is open to all workplaces, starts on Monday, 3 May and will run for eight weeks.

Paths for All believes regular walking is key to leading a happy and healthy life. They believe walking is important now more so than ever, championing the array of associated benefits of short local walks where it is safe and appropriate to do so.

 Paths for All’s focus is clear: it wants to get Scotland walking: everyone, every day, everywhere.

For more information on Paths for All, visit: https://www.pathsforall.org.uk