OxTS employees were set a challenge to get out walking, running and/or cycling throughout July 2022 – to achieve a combined target of 13,729 km (20,049,224 steps). All in just 31 days!
Why this target?
The target of 20,049,224 steps represents the distance between the OxTS team based in Oxfordshire, UK, along the famous Silk Road, to the OxTS team based in Shanghai, China. So the team could map their progress along this virtual journey towards the goal.
What was the motivation?
This was an OxTS Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) initiative, aiming to get everyone out walking to support physical and mental wellbeing. Research suggests that walking briskly, running and/or cycling builds stamina, burns calories and makes hearts healthier. Spending time in nature also benefits mental health by improving mood and reducing stress. To reward everyone’s efforts, the OxTS management team also approved a generous donation to the Samaritans on completion of the goal. The charity was chosen as it works hard to support people in times of crisis and champions good mental health, as does the OxTS MHFA team.
The predicted outcome?
Although this task sounded daunting, the OxTS team had good form. During the first UK COVID lockdown, throughout April 2021, OxTS colleagues collectively walked 11,000 km to complete our first ever OxTS MHFA walking challenge. On that occasion the route was selected in memory of a much-missed OxTS colleague, Danny O’Boyle, who sadly passed away in November 2020. The distance represented Danny’s own journey from his home in Canada to his new life in the UK as part of the OxTS team. (It was the equivalent of the west coast of Canada, to the east, and across the Atlantic Ocean, ending at the OxTS UK offices). Monies raised on that occasion, including a £500 contribution from the Company, were donated to the National Autistic Society, a charity that Danny passionately supported. The outcome went down to the wire, and we only reached the target by everybody literally stepping up and walking extreme distances in the last few days of that challenge.
83 employees actively participated in the July 2022 challenge, formed into ten teams of 6-10 members each. The weather gave additional challenges to our contestants, as for several days a heatwave made it advisable to avoid exertion for much of the day and to, of course, keep hydrated. Despite everything, there were some phenomenal individual achievements and the top three contributors who chose to cycle and walk recorded 810 km, 571 km and 524.7 km respectively. The top three non-cyclists recorded an equally impressive 368.7 km, 366.4 km and 335 km to achieve first, second and third positions in that category. Fantastic as these individual achievements were however, it would need the whole team to contribute to achieve the full distance equivalent to travelling between the locations of the OxTS UK team and the OxTS Shanghai team. So did we do it?…. YES! As the clock struck midnight on 31st July 2022, the OxTS team had smashed the goal, with a combined 21,229,611 steps – the equivalent of 14,636 km. This secured the charity donation to the Samaritans and helped the team to maintain good health.
A spokesperson for the OxTS Mental Health First Aid team said, “We care about the wellbeing of our colleagues, and we are really pleased that we have had high levels of engagement with our teams wanting to look after their physical and mental health. Feedback from this event has been very positive, and it’s great that we’re able to contribute a donation to the Samaritans as well”.
The OxTS team may be temporarily hanging up their trainers and enjoying an icy glass of something in their gardens to celebrate their recent success – but watch this space to find out if another challenge might be accepted by this extremely healthy team!
Further resources / source materials:
- Follow this link to the Samaritans website
- Click here to read the NHS advice on walking for health
- Read Mind’s article on how nature benefits mental health
- Photo by Arek Adeoye on unsplash.com