Background 

The Inverclyde Globetrotters were formed in February 2008 from a Phase IV cardiac rehabilitation class at Inverclyde Leisure’s Waterfront Gym, Greenock, when, armed with only a map and some pedometers, they set off to try to walk virtually round the world to promote the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation. 

Aim 

The aim was to encourage members to stay active between classes and accrue the health benefits that come from more walking and less sitting. 

Methods 

A simple A4 record sheet was used to record the steps walked during the past week and the distances walked, cycled and rowed during the hour-long weekly gym class. 

Results/Findings 

In May 2010, after 117 weeks ‘on the road’, the Inverclyde Globetrotters arrived back in Greenock having clocked up 30,688 miles. They kept walking. 

On 14 May 2019, the members, mostly in their 70s and 80s, ‘landed softly’ on the Moon to complete a 238,855-mile mission lasting 11 years, 3 months and 10 days. They clocked up their miles walking virtually across every continent, ‘‘visiting’ over 100 countries worldwide. 

Their efforts inspired the creation of World Walking, a free website/app developed to motivate people to walk more, whose users, from Australia to Wales, have recorded over 11 million miles (25 billion steps). 

World Walking led to the development of: 

  • The online Active Staff walking challenges of NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde; 
  • Big Team Challenge for online walking/cycling challenges; and 
  • Critter Quest, a fun interactive game for the Royal Hospital for Children at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow that rewards physical activity specific to each child. 

Along the way, the Inverclyde Globetrotters launched and successfully completed: 

Conclusion 

With a sense of fun and adventure a small group of people with long-term health conditions can help get the world walking.

Our good friends at the cardiac rehabilitation team at the University Hospital Hairmyres in Lanarkshire, Scotland, finished the last decade on a bit of a high by completing their ‘Winter Wonderland Walk’ to Lapland.

And without missing a step (or a heart beat), the patients and staff are off again on their travels. They’ve decided to celebrate this new decade by tackling their longest challenge yet - World Walking’s epic ‘United States of America walk through all 48 contiguous states from Washington State on the west coast all the way to the steps of the Capitol Building in Washington DC.

The team has set their sights on walking all 31.5 million steps in time to mark World Heart Day on 29 September 2020 and to promote the benefits of cardiac rehabilitation.

Cardiac rehabilitation nurse specialist, Faye McSpurren said:

“ Our staff and patients enjoyed and benefited so much from the previous walks that there has been no hesitation in our group ‘stepping’ up to the plate to tackle another challenge. The sense of community has been fantastic and the shared goals have helped all participants work toward achieving the next ‘step’ and improving their health and lifestyle during the process.”

World Heart Day is an annual global campaign by the World Heart Federation to encourage individuals, families, communities, and governments around the world to participate in activities to take charge of their heart health and that of others. The Hairmyres cardiac team began supporting World Heart Day back in 2017 when they took part in World Walking’s ‘Walk Europe’ initiative. They also participated in our ‘Billion Steps for Health’ campaign for World Heart Day 2018. 

And now in 2020 they’re striding out on their own to fly the flag for Scotland in this global campaign.  Why not follow their lead and use World Walking to create your own walking event for World Heart Day 2020. Nearer the day, you’ll be able to add the details of your event to the World Heart Federation’s spinning globe to let everyone know how you celebrated this day.

With a new decade fast approaching, we would to thank everyone who has supported and used World Walking in 2019. Our little volunteer-led Scottish charity has never had a plan as such, just a desire to do what we can with what we have, to help motivate people to walk more for health and happiness.

That we are now in our seventh year, amazes us and makes us very thankful and we look forward, as we always do, to the New Year and our first new decade with a continuing sense of optimism that something good lies just round the next bend in the road.

Our hopes and dreams for 2020 are that by the end of the year 50,000 people will have created user accounts and that our World Walkers will:

  • have amassed 30 billion steps; and 
  • completed 20,000 walks.
We are setting our stall out to have increased our library of ready-to-use virtual walks to 300 by this time next year and are looking forward, excitedly, to launching a couple of new initiatives in 2020:

  • a new feature which will allow users to use World Walking to raise money for charity as they walk; and 
  • enabling users to sync their Garmin devices.

With our very best wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year. We hope 2020 brings you lots of joy.

Happy Walking.

From the World Walking Team.