Jane Stringer - National walking month 2023-01

National Walking Month: My 1000 Miles Walking Challenge

May is National Walking Month and for many an opportunity to take part in ‘Move it May’.

This year a range of communities are choosing to mark the NHS’s 75th birthday by coming together to take part in the NHS 1000 mile challenge.

We asked Jane Stringer, Service Delivery Manager here at the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) to share her experience of having taken part in a previous challenge.

When I first started working from home during the pandemic, I realised I wasn’t moving very much, often not leaving the house for days - so I thought I really needed to try to get moving a bit more!

So, at the start of 2022, I agreed to complete a 1000 mile Walking Challenge with my husband. Having done nothing like this before, I didn’t think it would be achievable.

As the challenge began, I felt determined and started going for a small walk either at lunchtime or after work once or twice a week. Then it evolved into walking every Saturday or Sunday too. I did find some of the walks challenging at first, having not really moved for a lot of the previous year, and would always be looking for the next bench to rest on as I found it really tiring.

Rather than counting my daily steps as part of the walking challenge, I did it from the second I set off on a walk with my walking boots on only including my focused walking time. Looking back this has added to my sense of achievement.

Over time, I’ve found walking has had some positive benefits on both my mental and physical health. My breathing has improved, and I find that I’m no longer looking for that bench for a rest. Now if I sit down, it’s to take in the view. I also talk to other walkers as they pass, and it’s lovely to feel some community spirit. I return feeling refreshed and able to think a bit more clearly and often treat myself to a relaxing bath after a long weekend walk.

After starting the challenge in January, I walked my 1000th mile on December 29, 2022.

I enjoyed the challenge so much that I haven’t set a new challenge for 2023, I now just enjoy it being part of my normal routine. I still walk two short walks during the week and one longer one on a weekend.

I’ve thanked the people who encouraged and supported me, giving me helpful tips along the way and suggesting nice walks. Some of my favourite walks have been in the Lake District around Ullswater, but you’ll always be able to find lovely walks local to you.

A few tips that have helped me to be successful are:

  • On the days I plan to walk, I put my walking clothes on first thing, and then I am less likely to change my mind as the day goes on.
  • When walking up a steep hill, I don’t focus on the top of the hill, but just the section in front of me, and tackle it bit by bit.
  • I take plenty of water and snacks, especially if going on a long walk, and always let somebody know where I’m going and what time I expect to be back.

I have really enjoyed being outside more and have seen some wonderful sights – I would encourage anyone to try it or certainly to spend more time in the great outdoors! I’d encourage anyone starting out, to begin with a short walk first and see how they feel. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

If you feel like taking on the challenge yourself for NHS75, you can join others in tracking their walking, running, swimming and cycling miles as part of the #NHS1000miles challenge on social media.