VICKI WALKER is already seeing the benefits of taking part in The Sun’s fundraising Big Step challenge.
The 44-year-old, whose whole family is joining in with the initiative, said: “I’ve lost 2lb and my BMI has gone down from 25.4 to 24. We have really been motivated to move more.”
The aptly named Walker family have enjoyed taking part in The Sun’s Big Step Challenge[/caption]
The Sun has teamed up with NHS Charities Together, the national charity caring for the healthcare system, which is calling for volunteers across the UK to walk either 5,000 or 10,000 steps every day in April and May and raise sponsorship.
The aim is to get the nation into shape while also raising vital cash for pioneering NHS projects.
And the aptly-named Walkers — Vicki, husband Wes, 42, and their daughters, Willow, 11, and six-year-old Autumn, from Tamworth, Staffs — agreed to give the challenge a go before it starts next month and are all feeling better for it.
Their week-long challenge has also brought out some healthy competition within the family, which also includes four-year-old miniature schnauzer Archie.
Wes says: “The girls were competing with me to beat my steps score and love it when they are in the lead.”
Vicki, a talent attraction manager for a recruitment firm, admitted their girls had resorted to some dirty tactics in a bid to come top of the step count leaderboard.
She says: “Everyone is competing with each other in the house and the girls love wearing the pedometers to school.
“I caught Autumn hooking hers on to the dog’s collar . . . smart thinking though!
“And Autumn claimed to have seen Willow’s friends running around at school with her pedometer, which Willow denied but Autumn was adamant.”
If you join in and don’t have a pedometer or other workout tracking device you can download a step counter app on your smartphone, many of which are free.
Before the challenge, Vicki and Wes struggled to squeeze in exercise around work and caring for their children.
Vicki says: “Before kids, I was a regular at the gym. I trained all through my pregnancy and also used a personal trainer prior to our wedding.
“Fast forward ten years and I hadn’t set foot in a gym until this January, when my husband bought me membership to a large chain gym as a Christmas present.
“It’s been a slow start there, trying to juggle work and the kids. I drive the girls to and from school.
“On the days I’m in the office, I drive there too. That is only small, so I don’t do many steps there.
“Both the girls dance. Their classes are at different times. I’m mum’s taxi during the week and I spend my Saturdays driving them to and from dance classes.
“The only time I go for a walk is if I take the dog out. If you asked me how many steps a day I do, I’d say I’m quite fit and healthy but it’s probably about 500, something ridiculous like that.
“Wes is a bricklayer and walks a lot more than me. He gets up at 5.30am to walk the dog.
“And if he doesn’t have a labourer at work he will be moving materials around.”
Wes and Vicki say the challenge will help all of them be more health focused[/caption]
Autumn and Willow joined in the challenge with enthusiasm all week long[/caption]
How to join in
THE challenge starts on April 1, lasts for two months and you can choose to do either 5,000 or 10,000 sponsored steps each day.
To sign up today simply visit bigstep.co.uk.
Every stepper will receive a pair of red shoelaces for their first donation.
Raise over £35 and you’ll get a special medal.
And if you hit £100 you will receive a Big Step T-shirt.
Wes claims he has “no idea” how many steps a day he averaged before the challenge.
He says: “I’ve never tracked my steps before and I’m currently trying to be more healthy.
“I still think I’m 20, not 42, but my body says otherwise. The Big Step is a good idea to get people outside and away from gadgets.
“Anything to improve health and get families out is good.”
Vicki adds: “We are trying as a family to be more active, especially on a Sunday, as that’s the one day we are all together. So this has come at a time when we’re trying to do more anyway.
“And we do like a bit of a challenge in this family.”
Keeping track of their steps throughout the week pushed them to all move more.
Vicki says: “It’s highlighted massively the days I am driving to school and work and how static I am.
“We’ve all been more aware of trying to do more and apart from the rain this week we’ve done a few more short walks than normal.
“I had a half-hour gap at dancing this week too, when one girl goes in and I wait for the other. Instead of sitting in the car I took the dog for a walk.”
As well as the physical benefits, the challenge has also brought them closer.
Wes says: “Life is so busy running around after the girls. The hour Vicki and I get on a Wednesday, when both of them are in dance classes, we went for a walk and it meant we got time to talk without distraction.
“It has been a great thing to do as a family and got us all talking and competing, which we love.”
Vicki was thrilled to finally achieve the 10,000 steps at the end of the challenge.
She says: “Wes and Willow were poorly during the week, so their steps were a little lower.
“It meant I was doing all the dog walks and on Sunday I hit 10,000 steps.”
Wes jokingly added: “It’s annoying that Vicki smashed 10,000. She won’t let that one drop for a while now.”
They have been so impressed with the benefits they plan to keep up with the challenge.
Wes says: “I’d definitely recommend it to other families, especially for kids, as it gives them something to focus on and family time.”
How to increase your paces
PERSONAL trainer and fitness expert Jenny Francis-Townson has loads of tips to up your step count . . .
Walk to the shops: Swap your next drive to get milk and eggs for a 15-minute walk instead.
For others, get your strides in on the way to the school gates or the hairdressers.
Get a fitness watch: Like pedometers, these devices show how many steps you do each day and give you reminders when you haven’t moved. You can also download a free step counter app.
Use your standing time: Instead of standing still waiting, take a few laps around the kitchen while the kettle boils or walk while waiting for the bus.
Dance: Whether you prance around the kitchen or take part in a dancefit class, you’ll rack up thousands of steps by putting your dancing shoes on.
Be social with your steps: Grab a coffee on the go with a friend and take a walk together rather than sitting in.
Garden: If you have a garden, get outside and enjoy a little bit of green-fingered time. Those strides will soon be in the bank.
Take the long route: Two routes home? Take the longer one and easily add a few hundred steps to your day.
Exercise: Other forms to exercise – like a gym class, swimming, boxing or Zumba – will not only improve your health but will get your daily steps in a different way to walking.
Walking meetings or lunch breaks: Try to find times in your work day to bump up your steps.
Could you have a walking meeting with a colleague? Go for a walk on your break or take a lap of your workplace every hour.
Vicki’s big step diary
Day 1: Monday
WE all got off to a great start. Wes walks Archie every day at 5.45am before work so he got some early steps in.
The girls were excited to wear their pedometers to school and they both have dance classes so clocked up loads of paces.
I usually sit and wait for them but instead I took Archie with me and walked him.
Day 2: Tuesday
I WORKED from home today and had little spare time between school drop-off and pick-up, so it was hard to get steps in.
Willow had dance class, which was great, as it helped increase her total and she stormed into the lead.
I took Autumn for a walk with Archie so we could get some exercise even in the rain.
Day 3: Wednesday
BEFORE my class at the gym I used the running machine to get my steps up.
Autumn had PE at school and loved showing the teacher her pedometer.
Both girls had dance classes so Wes and I went for a walk for an hour.
We don’t usually get time to chat so we’re going to stick with this walk from now on.
Day 4: Thursday
WES walked Archie at 5.45am and managed to rack up almost 9,000 steps, putting him in the lead.
Archie must be on a similar number! I got some steps in at the gym again.
Willow had PE, so it was her turn to show off her pedometer, then she had a party after school so she clocked up lots of paces too.
Day 5: Friday
WES gave Archie his early morning walk again. I worked today but I’m part of an adult tap class so on a Friday I could easily get more than 5,000 steps with all that tapping.
The girls have a pizza and film night to chill out but still got steps in at school. Wes took Archie on a long walk again tonight.
Day 6: Saturday
NOT a great day as both Wes and Willow are poorly, which is not like either of them.
Autumn and I had to do the dog walking so it helped with getting our steps in.
We visited the horse Autumn loves to see and found out it has a new foal.
She was so excited and wouldn’t have known if we hadn’t gone for a walk.
Day 7: Sunday
WES is still poorly, which explains his low score. It meant I did the dog walking again, and I loved it.
I was thrilled to smash 10,000 steps. It will be great to see the affect it has had on my BMI.
The girls both clocked up way over 5,000 steps each and are looking forward to continuing the challenge next week.