Fit for Life: Loch Lomond National Park staff receive Walk at Work Award

Fit for Life walk in Balloch Castle Country Park

All smiles and putting their best feet forward – the National Park team on the walk.

By Democrat reporter

Loch Lomond Park Authority logo 2The Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park Authority has been awarded a Walk at Work Award from Paths for All in recognition of the organisation’s new Fit for Life pilot scheme.

The award celebrates employers who promote everyday walking in the workplace and the National Park Authority is one of the first organisations to be given the award.  The National Park Authority already encourages a walking culture in the workplace with staff often conducting walking meetings, taking part in litter picks or other outdoor events however last year the organisation took another step in helping employees to get out and active by introducing a new pilot scheme called Fit for Life.

The optional scheme allows staff to take part in a 15-minute walk or other physical activity such as running or cycling in the National Park, within work time, every working day. The nine-month pilot, which began in September last year, is designed to give staff time away from the office to help improve overall wellbeing, reduce stress and increase levels of team work. Absences for work caused by sickness for those participating in the pilot have already reduced by 30% from last year.

The pilot has been very well received with over 120 staff members signing up to take part and last year staff collectively walked 93,000 minutes.  The Paths for All Walk at Work award was presented to the organisation at a whole staff meeting this week before all staff went for Fit for Life Walk in Balloch Castle Country Park.

Director of Corporate Services at Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park, Jaki Carnegie, who championed the scheme and worked with staff members to help the initial idea become a reality, said: “I am absolutely thrilled and incredibly proud that we have received a Walk at Work award from Paths for All in recognition of the National Park Authority’s efforts to promote the benefits of walking in the workplace and the amazing take up from such a high proportion of our staff.

“Our Fit for Life pilot is an innovative and forward thinking scheme that gives staff time out of their working day to enjoy all the benefits of being in the outdoors, allowing them to come back to the office re-energised after a short burst of exercise and a break away from computer screens.

“We believe that exercising in the National Park’s natural environment is good not only for people’s physical health but for their mental well-being too.  Our staff are our greatest asset and it is vital that we as an organisation continue to invest and support them.

“I would like to thank and congratulate everyone at the National Park Authority for their enthusiasm and wholehearted support of the pilot.”

‘Fit for Life’ is the term used by Scottish Government for the workplace version of the schools ‘Daily Mile’.  The ‘Daily Mile’ scheme started life in St Ninian’s Primary school in Stirling with pupils going out into the playground, rain or sun, to walk or run a mile to help improve their physical and mental well-being.

Ian Findlay, Paths for All’s Chief Officer, said: “Congratulations to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority for achieving our Walk at Work Award.

“It’s brilliant to see Scottish workplaces taking the lead in creating a work-based walking culture and making improvements to staff health and well-being.

“Research shows that employees who are physically active in and around the working day take fewer sick days, are more motivated and productive, and are abler to concentrate, so walking is not just good for us, it’s good for business.

Dick's boat on Loch Lomond

The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond – great place for a walk. Picture by Bill Heaney

“I would urge any Scottish workplace to follow the National Park Authority’s lead and use Paths for All’s support to take small steps to a healthier workforce.”

As part of the Fit for Life pilot staff complete a start-up questionnaire, including setting a personal goal, complete monthly progress questionnaires and at the end of the 9-month pilot we will undertake an end of project review.

The pilot will conclude in May where all the data will be collated to measure the impact of the scheme and consider whether to extend the pilot.

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