Dark days couldn't stop winning Step Count Challenge team

A team of council workers from Shetland have walked their way to victory in a nationwide workplace walking challenge.

Members of the winning team with their Fitbit prizes

Team Twisted Blisters were one of 418 teams from across Scotland taking part in the Autumn Step Count Challenge – our fun initiative to encourage employees to be more active.

Despite the limited hours of daylight on the island, the fit five took more steps than any other team recording 3,626,958 steps or around 25,000 per day per person.

The team put in overtime with their steps before and after work and on weekends with some even taking annual leave to give them time to boost their step count.

Wendy Borrill, Twisted Blisters team captain said

It feels great to have won but had we come in anywhere in the top 10, we would have been just as happy.
I think we just really enjoyed this challenge. We were competitive, but that wasn’t what was driving us. It was more about fitness, maybe weight loss, and motivating each other. There was a great amount of friendship between the five of us and we encouraged each other the whole time.

This challenge comes at the right time for us. There’s just five or six hours of light here in Shetland at the moment, so the challenge gave us a lovely focus.

The team – Louise Johnson, Kevin Jones, Ann Thomson and Wendy’s husband John Borrill – used WhatsApp to keep in touch and managed to walk about 1700 miles between them in four weeks.

And, each had their own way of racking up their step count.
While one member walked 12 miles a day just getting to and from work wearing a headtorch, others used treadmills in the early hours or worked in extra ways to be on the go everyday.

Wendy added: “I aimed for about 20,000 steps a day but tried to get closer to 30,000. For four weeks, you can put in this level of effort and, afterwards, you do carry it on. Exercise doesn’t make you tired, it energises you.
“We’re an active bunch but the challenge also made us aware of smaller things we can do at work to add exercise into your day like choosing to take the stairs.”

When asked about Shetland Islands Council’s attitude to the challenge, Wendy added: “They were wonderful and incredibly supportive with the challenge, and in general are very proactive in encouraging staff to be well.”

Council employees from Shetland have taken part in Step Count Challenges since they began in 2011, but, although they once came in second, this is the first time they have won.

Maggie Sandison, Chief Executive of Shetland Islands Council said: “The physical and mental health of our staff really matters to Shetland Islands Council. The Step Count Challenge is a fantastic initiative that everyone can join. Twisted Blisters are great ambassadors, but I support all my staff to get involved if they can.”

Ian Findlay CBE, Chief Officer at Paths for All said: “Many congratulations to Twisted Blisters. They are stalwarts of the Step Count Challenge, and we have been amazed by the number of steps they managed to do, especially considering the many hours of darkness on the island at this time of year.
“The Step Count Challenge is just one way we are encouraging people to be more active during the working day, and I hope that everyone who took part will keep their steps up and continue to enjoy the benefits of regular, everyday walking.”

For more information on the Step Count Challenge, visit www.stepcount.org.uk.