26 October 2015

The children went back to school and the autumn season began. The Great British Bake-Off was still on TV and the Queen became Britain's longest reigning monarch.

We also challenged Northamptonshire to walk 20 million steps in one weekend! After all, we managed more than 24 million steps last year, so were we able to do it again in 2015?

This year we wanted the event to be bigger and better so that even more people got involved and contributed steps so the planning and promotion started early to ensure everyone in the county not only knew about the challenge but also understood how they could take part.

Requests for information and promotional material soon started coming in from individuals, organisations, business and schools wanting to take part in the challenge. Here are some great examples of how they got involved:

  • This year's challenge was well-supported by BBC Radio Northampton, with several programmes encouraging people to get walking, for example, during Friday 18th John Griff walked 1616 steps throughout his afternoon show and lunchtime presenter Helen Blaby clocked up some steps with Corby Borough Council.
  • Also on the Friday, local business The White Company took part in the challenge by organising health walks for their staff.  Two hundred people took part and they walked 995264 steps which is a phenomenal achievement!
  • Activities took place at libraries throughout the weekend, and special mention should go to Rushden Library which ran a number of sessions including a ‘get to know Rushden’ walk, a bear hunt around the library and the Rushden Ramblers also organised a walk from the library.  In total the group (pictured above) walked more than 500,000 steps.
  • Substance misuse programme The Bridge took a group of 51 people for a walk around the Racecourse and Beckets Park in Northampton, contributing 228484 steps to the overall total.

As we saw the totals coming in we were overwhelmed by the number of people taking part in the challenge and were hopeful that we would smash our target, but until all the step forms had been submitted we were on tenterhooks to find out the final total.

We are very pleased to report that we absolutely smashed our target with 33,172,823 steps walked during the three days.

This is an incredible achievement and everyone who took part should be proud. Hopefully this will have encouraged people to walk more and will have kickstarted a new healthy habit.

But why is this challenge so important?

We want Northamptonshire to be happier and healthier by 2020. Recent figures show that 67.5% of adults in Northamptonshire are obese or overweight. We are working to tackle this scary statistic by encouraging more people to get active because this has real health benefits.  And one of the easiest ways to be more active is through walking - it’s a great way for people to increase both their mental and physical wellbeing, plus it's fun and free.

You can find out about other walking opportunities on the Walk4Life website or visit Northamptonshire Sport's website to get details of their popular health walks programme.

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