My 40 miles (a week) challenge – #LLL550!

The Living Longer Lives (LLL) team has taken on a challenge for NHS Change Day to exercise the equivalent distance of the length of England, from Berwick upon Tweed to Lands’ End. That adds up to a daunting 550 miles, and it’s something I’m really excited to be part of. You can follow our progress using the hashtag #LLL550.

The team will pursue varying activities to cover the distance, whether it’s walking, running, cycling, swimming, rowing, skiing, rope skipping or on horseback; any method is allowed as long as we’re using our own steam. We’ll be starting on 4 March, and hopefully reaching our goal of ‘Land’s End’ on Change Day itself on 11 March.

I have pledged 40 miles for the week; running, walking and rope skipping. Yes I normally exercise but I tend to run about three times per week, I walk daily from the station to the office and back. I love rope skipping and I was very excited to learn that it can be quantified i.e. 15 minutes of intense rope skipping equals two miles- yippee!!

This undertaking is an added challenge as I would normally cover a of maximum twenty to 20-23 miles activity weekly, striding around some of the slopes and dare I say it challenging hills and gradients in Devon.  I’m excited that this challenge gives me the chance to push myself further.

I recently joined the LLL team on a secondment from a clinical nursing background where I worked in primary care.  I am an advocate for healthy lifestyles and I led a team of nurses promoting prevention and optimising cardiovascular health in the community.  This involves working with patients and clinicians to enhance risk factor management and encouraging healthy lifestyle initiatives, including exercise, diet and improving blood pressure, cholesterol etc.  Hence, if this challenge motivates others to believe they can also do something towards healthy living then wonderful!

I must say, it’s invigorating being a part of a team who are keen to promote the benefits of exercise and pursuing it via a personal/team challenge.  There are many changes in the health systems and within the organisation, the feeling of uncertainty resonates but in the midst of this, the team is motivated to embark on a positive initiative which echoes our programme’s aim of living longer lives.  The benefits of exercise cannot be overstated, numerous publications, research and newspapers have affirmed the value in terms of reducing one’s risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia and longer healthier lives, amongst other things.

Across the NHS there is a move towards promoting a healthier workforce and the Five Year Forward View highlights the importance of this.  Certainly, our challenge gives credence to boosting workforce health – indeed the team’s health.   LLL Programme Head Hilary Walker has been an inspirational force who’s not only supportive of the challenge but is also taking part.

It’s encouraging to know that in the NHS there is still room for creative team challenges, I look forward to the resulting updates as the team and I embark on our mission – who knows it might be around the world?  Well, perhaps a Europe challenge will be the next quest!!

We celebrate NHS Change Day! Though I believe exercise and fitness is a necessity not just for Change Day, it’s terrific to promote this under this umbrella and know that yes we can do it.

Don’t forget to follow how we’re getting on under the #LLL550 hashtag.

Hurray for the LLL team and #LL550 challenge….!

Sylvia Richards, programme delivery manager, Living Longer Lives programme

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