Top tips from our top steppers

walking

Since the start of 2021, IQ-EQ has been taking part in a step challenge.  What began as a 6-week step challenge quickly progressed into the IQ-EQ Destination Moon Challenge!

Spending time outside in nature is great for our mental health. Here, some of our top steppers from the challenge have let us know how they get their steps in, how they keep up this routine and how they overcome days when you feel less motivated to go out and get fresh air.

Sharon McMillan - average steps 15,000 to 20,000 per day, Guernsey

How do you get your steps in?

I have a dog (a Dalmatian called Purdy) so every week day morning before work I give her 45 minutes’ walk followed by a 15-minute run.  When work allows I try to get out at lunchtime for a 5km run to break up the day and get some fresh air.  At weekends I spend a lot more time walking her and would usually get in 3 hours walking per day with step counts on those days being around 30,000.  At weekends I also run with a friend. Come rain or shine my dog needs to be walked and I love being out in nature.  As I do most of my walking at the beginning of day and no matter how busy my day gets at least I’ve already done some exercise.

Were you already doing this routine or has this changed since starting the step challenge?

I was already doing this routine before the IQ-EQ Step Challenge but I must admit I have often found myself doing a few more steps in order to keep up the ranking or beat a colleague’s daily total that day!

What are your favourite local routes to motivate you to get the steps in?

I live on the beautiful Island of Guernsey.  I mostly walk along its stunning west coast, where I live, taking in the views of the many beaches along the way.   I love how the beach changes from one day to other with new rock formations on show depending on the tidal movements on any given day.

On days where you feel less motivated, how do you overcome this?

I rarely don’t feel motivated to walk and having a dog helps as you have to take them out regardless of how you are feeling.  Some days though if the weather is bad I will just say that at least if I go out for 30 minutes and once out you always feel better and end up doing more.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get into running/ walking?

Walking is really good for you plus it’s simple and free.  It is often overlooked as a form of exercise.  You don’t need to walk for long, even a short brisk walk has lots of health benefits.  No matter what your fitness levels you can start walking and it is amazing how quickly you can build this up. 

Best stepping song?

I don’t listen to music at all when walking in nature. I much prefer to hear what is going on around me.

purdy

Purdy in Guernsey

Femy Mouftaou, Luxembourg

Every night, and sometimes very late at night, I go for a walk in my village. During winter it was challenging because of the snow and the slippy roads, however it is always refreshing. I take my airpods with me so that I can listen podcasts, music or audio books. In March, I listened several chapters of “promised land” by Barack Obama whilst walking. This helps me to clear my mind after those long hours in front of my computer

Twice a week, I wake up a bit earlier to go to the gym. I don’t spend more than 30 minutes there but sometimes I go running a bit before to warmup. I generally run laps around a nice church with stairs close to my house. Then twice a week I go for longer runs.

Mathew McCartin – average steps a day 22,000, Belfast

I would encourage people to actively take part in Mental Health awareness week, whether that is in terms of their own well-being or to donate to our Just Giving page to raise money for Aware NI who help so many people who struggle with their mental health, especially over the courses of this pandemic.

How do you get your steps in?

Mostly walking, playing hurling and generally being quite active.  Fortunately, the usual unpredictable Irish weather has not hindered too many morning walks!

How do you fit this into your day, do you have a specific routine that helps this?

My fiancée and I go for a walk (about 5k steps) every weekday morning, then I walk another roughly 5k steps whilst doing Spanish on Duolingo (new hobby since lockdown began).  I usually try to about 30 minutes of exercise at lunchtime (work-permitting!) and tend to go for a walk or play hurling in the evenings.

Were you already doing this routine or has this changed since starting the step challenge?  

I did not used to walk much, but my fitness watch has encouraged me to do so more in the past couple of years. This step challenge has been another motivating factor to encourage me to be active.  I enjoy the peace of mind and fresh air that really helps to clear my head and break up the day, especially whilst WFH.

What are your favourite local routes to motivate you to get the steps in?

My local towpath along the Lagan in Belfast – I tend to mix up routes.

On days where you feel less motivated, how do you overcome this?

I tell myself that is better to go for a short walk or by taking regular breaks to move from my kitchen office set up!  By shrinking my target steps into a smaller, more manageable target it is less demotivating and instead encouraging.  Often then my mood improves during a short walk and I may end up on a longer route.

What advice would you give someone who wants to gets into running/ walking? 

Personally, I feel much better after doing any exercise, be that a walk, run, cycle etc.  In fact, I feel that I have more energy as a result of being very active - especially when outdoors to benefit from the fresh air.  I would encourage walking first thing in the morning.

Best stepping song?

To be honest, I rarely listen to music while walking and prefer to go for a walk with someone or simply as an opportunity to switch off from other commitments.  Although, if I had to pick, an obvious one DMC/Aerosmith – Walk this way!

Belfast Walk

Walking in Belfast