JUST Get Active is cheering over-50s to join its One Million Steps Challenge through free walking sports, supported by BBC and ITV broadcaster John Inverdale.
The challenge is taking place from January through to April 2020.
Over-50s are encouraged to up their step count by participating in walking sports – gentler versions of traditional running sports like football and hockey.
Throughout the challenge, broadcaster and walking sports ambassador, John Inverdale – the driving force behind Radio 5 Live – will surprise participants with a guest appearance at their team’s regular session.
He said: “There’s always a temptation as you reach a certain age to think it’s too late to start a new hobby or make a lifestyle change. It’s simply not true where sport is concerned.
“Whether you’d like to play, volunteer or supply the snacks, the walking sports community is so welcoming. I’d love to come and surprise people who have joined in. So, I’m calling on the people of Warwickshire and the surrounding areas to rise to the challenge: one million steps by April. If all of us band together, it’s totally achievable!”
Once the collective goal of one million steps is reached, Just Get Active will award Think Active, the Active Partnership for Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire, with £5,000 to support walking sports clubs in the region.
Why Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull? Just Get Active – an initiative dedicated to helping older adults get active for a happier, healthier life – surveyed 500 over-50s across Warwickshire and the surrounding areas (including Bromsgrove, Coventry and Solihull) to reveal that an alarming one in eight over-50s here don’t exercise at all. Encouragingly more than a third want to try walking sports.
The ‘My Just Get Active’ walking sports activity tracker at justgetactive.co.uk lets users log and track their walking sports participation. No fancy fitness device is needed – users simply input time spent playing particular sports and the app converts it to the average number of steps for this activity.
Players can also accumulate ‘points’ for social activities like bringing friends to a session, socialising afterwards, volunteering, coaching, refereeing and organising refreshments.
To qualify for a free walking sports session, over-50s new to walking sports simply need to visit justgetactive, set up their profile and download the voucher for their local participating Everyone Active centre.
John Inverdale will personally present walking sports stars with special awards for participating, from someone who has racked up a great step count, to the person who has introduced the most friends to their local group.
Warwickshire’s Natalie Carroll has been inspired to start her own walking hockey group, encouraging over-50s to join the friendly community and try a new hobby.
“I loved hockey when I was younger and thought those days were over. I never thought I’d recapture those days of playing, feeling part of a team and socialising together afterwards. But I picked it up again later in life and really want to let others have that chance too – it’s brilliant! What better time than the new year?
“The leisure centre I work at were keen to find someone to run a walking hockey session. I just thought ‘yes!’ I’m really excited to get started and see what the future holds. For me, it’s all about the community. I want to offer something for everyone, no matter their age, fitness or ability. I’m passionate about helping the older generation – and I know walking hockey will make such a difference.”