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How to create a Staff Strava Challenge

We recently won an Innovation Award at the National School Games Summit for a Strava Challenge we set up with Durham & Chester-le-Street SSP in Lockdown 1.  The challenge was successful in “rising to the challenge and doing things differently to solve problems as well as developing creative ways to overcome barriers.”   The challenge helped school staff to stay active, connected and support their mental health.  We therefore thought that it might be helpful to show you how to set up a Strava Group Challenge for your school school staff or organisation.

STEP ONE

Create a CLUB on the Strava App – https://www.strava.com/clubs/new

Ensure it is a running club which means you can record distances from people both running and walking (but not cycling).  You can add logos and descriptions and then invite staff/colleagues to join. As the designated “admin” for the group you can see who wants to join and then accept or deny them entry into the club.

The way the club works is that from 1 minute past midnight on a Sunday night you are off – every time a member of your team/club does an activity it records it and adds it to your weekly total – as a whole and also as an individual. You can then see who is doing the longest runs, the most uphill climbs, the greatest time out exercising.  It is displayed in a league table.

STEP TWO

Decide a cut off time for taking daily totals – we suggest 9pm.  Any miles/kilometres after that time can be rolled over to the next day. You could make a google map of how far you have travelled that day and a Canva template to compare the team totals if you are challenging another group. Our first challenge was to travel from John O’Groats to Land’s End (a mere 874 miles) and as we progressed quickly during the week (there were over 340 participants split very evenly between the two clubs – we decided to turn around and head back up North to double the distance!).

STEP THREE

Keep your team members motivated by creating a POST in Strava in order to let them know how they are doing at various points during the week.  This can include photos as well as text. Perhaps you have passed a particularly interesting landmark or famous city?

TOP TIPS FOR MOTIVATION

  • Pick an achievable distance to cover in a week depending on how many team members you have – most people should be able to do 3 or 4 miles per day.

  • Pick an iconic route – Hadrian’s Wall, The Pennine Way, Route 66 – or travel between two cities (we went from Paris to Milan one week!)

  • Take a break from travelling for distance and travel for ART! This will bring out the artistic flair of staff as they try to design their walking/running routes in order to make a pretty pattern or a picture. You will see lots of pans, worms and boxes but also stick people, horses, snails and flowers! Find someone from another company to be the judge.

  • Set up a Whatsapp group to encourage team chat and motivation.

  • Have a theme – take a photo of an animal, some scenery, famous landmarks, something green.

  • Create smaller teams and then have weekly challenges between them – who can climb the most metres?  Who can visit the most places starting with the letter S?

  • Most importantly have FUN, keep HEALTHY and ACTIVE and ENJOY!

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For more information contact pauldonaghy@go-well.org.

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5 ideas for schools to support children to be active at home

We are currently in National Lockdown 2.0; engaging children in regular physical activity is becoming more and more challenging. Some reasons for this may include:

  • Space and time in school is limited with staggered lunchtimes and deteriorating weather

  • Community sport and recreation opportunities are cancelled

  • After school clubs are limited to bubbles

  • The dark nights are setting in

  • We are all spending the majority of our time at home

While schools continue to aim to provide 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity in school time, which in itself is tricky, the additional 30 minutes out of school is providing a significant challenge.

We know that schools want to help their parents and communities to support children to be active outside of school.  We know being physically active is super important for physical health and mental health and we know the pandemic is negatively affecting the health and well-being of our children.  So what can we do?  

Here are a few ideas…

1. Virtual After School Clubs

Why not?  We all have taken big steps into the digital world and live virtual delivery has been successful in many settings.  Joe Wicks got us started in Lockdown 1.0 but we have equally seen local sports club set up ‘zoom’ type sessions to continue engagement in their activities.  Schools are becoming more comfortable with home learning and digital platforms; this could really be an option to expand the current, potentially limited, after school club provision.

It could be school staff delivering or you could engage with an external provider.  The Youth Sport Trust have also just announced that they will be providing a livestream virtual after school club at 5pm each night.

‘After School Sport Club’ will run for five weeks until December 18 and children and young people can take part live by visiting the YST’s YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/user/YouthSportTrust.

2. A Challenge or Competition

We have found that themes or challenges/competitions are a great way of engaging people young and old in physical activity.  In our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness challenge’ I walked over twice as many steps as I would in an average week.  A half termly, weekly or daily challenge may just spark that engagement.  Here are some quick ideas:

  • A steps challenge similar to our ‘One Million Steps to Wellness’.  Give a step target to a child as an individual, create small teams, or travel collectively somewhere as a class or bubble!

  • Sport themed half-terms with a different activity each week e.g. Athletics, Football.  Each child could have a go at the activity on a Monday and create a score, with the aim being to beat that score on Friday.  Start it at school, practice it at home!

  • Contribute to a total – did you hear about the girl who accumulated over 1 million “keepy upy’s” over Lockdown 1.0?  You could copy that with your class/school/bubble or come up with your own idea of a skill to use.  Throw and catch off a wall, squats, minutes of dancing…anything you or the children can think of!

3. Promote Resources Available to Parents

Why re-invent the wheel?  There are numerous resources out there now that can support children to be active at home.  A simple newsletter or notification to parents of what is available may go a long way.  Although, perhaps using these as a theme or challenge would enhance engagement further.  Here are some useful links:

Youth Sport Trust Free Downloadable Resources: https://www.youthsporttrust.org/free-resources
Change for Life Activities for Children:  https://www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities
Active 30 Durham Home Resource Catalogue: https://www.countydurhamsport.com/young-people/active-30/home/

4. Promote Active Travel

A 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride to school and 15 minute brisk walk/run/scoot/bike ride home would clock up a child’s 30 minutes of activity needed outside of school time.  Can you incentivise or reward Active Travel to school?

5. Activity Tracking

Setting goals and activity tracking can support children (and adults) to maintain engagement in physical activity.  A useful aim is to reach the CMO guidelines of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity each day.  Individual goals would be preferred, if time allows, as children will all begin from a different starting point.

3 Top Tips:

Involve the children in the planning/delivery/promotion

We know teachers are really stretched at the moment.  This could be a project for a group of sports leaders.

Keep it varied and vibrant

To maintain the engagement, keep mixing it up!  Use multiple ideas above in a longer plan/programme.

Reward engagement

Celebrate success of children being active outside of school to maintain the motivation of those engaged but also to encourage those less engaged to join in

 

We hope you found this blog helpful, if you have then you may find these previous blogs useful too:

6 ways to integrate Physical Activity

Why moderate to vigorous activity is important for children and how to measure it

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10 ways to make your virtual meetings more active!

Are you sitting in lots of virtual meetings throughout the day?  We would like to help you to make virtual meetings more active!

We advocate that everyone should integrate physical activity into their daily schedule to benefit their physical and mental health.  

However, did you know that it also boosts your brain power?  

Physical activity boosts the production of a chemical in your brain called BDNF which creates new brain cells and strengthens neural pathways.  It also boosts the production of Norepinephrine, which improves your concentration and alertness.

Hands up who can find it difficult to maintain full concentration during online learning or meetings?  

If you are leading online meetings, it may be helpful to integrate activity in to your delivery/time to maintain or to boost engagement.

Here are a few ideas for integrating activity into your online meetings:

1. Active Quiz/Poll

Link answers to body shapes or movements.  Stand up for Yes, Squat down for No.  Lean left for agree, lean right for disagree.

2. Active Break – Rock, Paper, Scissors!

An active twist on Rock, Paper, Scissors.  Use movements for Rock, Paper and Scissors.  Play in pairs, keep your score to see who wins.  You can also give other roles out like a referee and a score keeper. This works great in breakout rooms.  You can make it into a competition if you like or just play for fun!

Add some twists!:

1. Points for passion – have a judge who can give extra points for how passionate people are when playing.

2. Make it more active by replacing Rock, Paper and Scissors with other more challenging movements e.g Squat, Lunge, One foot balance.

3. Full screen with everyone creating a shape at the same time.  The shape with the most people performing that shape wins that round.

3. Active Break – I went to….

Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  The task is to create the longest sequence of movements in the style of the game ‘I went to the supermarket and I bought….’  e.g. Add a movement on each time you move to the next player.  Change the intro to anything you like ‘I went to PE and we did…..’, ‘I went to the gym and we did…..’.  You can work through the alphabet or just freestlyle!

4. Active Break – Dance

Create a dance – Split your delegates into breakout rooms of groups of 4-6.  Ask each room to create a dance to a certain section of a song (all the same song and section).  Bring the groups back together and perform the dance either one group at a time, or all together.

5. Active Break –  1-2-3 

Split your group into breakout rooms in pairs and complete the exercise in the video below.

6. Active Break – Competition

How many times can you catch and throw an object within a minute?  One hand to the other? One hand only?  Off your wall?  Compete against each other or repeat the task and try and beat your own score.

7. Active Break – Workout

Complete a 2, 5 or 10 minute workout together.  You can use this one if you like:

8. Active thinking time

Walk and reflect – set a thinking task but ask participants to go for a 10 minute walk, ideally outside, as they consider the question or questions.

9. Active task – Scavenger hunt

Collect objects from your house/office space that represent a certain thing or answer a question.

10. Active Break –  Mexican Wave!

Team challenge.  Can you create a Mexican wave on your screen in a certain order?

Add some twists:

1. Pick a person and an order (horizontal wave/vertical wave).  The wave has to go in that order on that persons screen but they cannot talk during the challenge and the others cannot ask them questions.  They can only make waves and attempt to create the wave in the right order.  The person can nod, shake their head or do a wave (they are in the screen after all and will need to take their turn in the Mexican wave).   Once an effort to make the wave fails the team needs to start again!

2.  Do a wave and then point (with one hand or two), whoever you point to has to do a wave and so on.

Some of these tasks can be linked to a topic/be part of the content of the meeting and some can just be to have some fun and move!  A quick 5 minute activity of simply moving, having fun and connecting with other people will help to boost brain chemicals in individuals and lift the atmosphere in virtual meetings.  The next ‘serious’ task is then likely to be more productive with delegates more alert and ready to engage.

These are just a few suggestions and as we have been implementing them in our meetings and workshops we have come up with new ideas, which I’m sure you will too!  We would love you to share any new ideas or twists on the above in the comments!

We hope you have found this blog helpful, for more information contact: sarahprice@go-well.org.

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6 ways to integrate physical activity into your school day

There are many benefits to being physically active, regardless of our age. The positive effects on the body are numerous – strengthening our heart and lungs, lowering blood cholesterol levels and regulating blood pressure, developing stronger bones, muscles and joints….a pretty impressive list.  Additionally, the mental health benefits enjoyed by those who include some form of physical activity as part of their daily routine – relieving stress, improving memory, boosting their overall mood and positively impacting on depression, proves that physical activity is a winner!
Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!
 Creative thinking, coupled with the desire to be a positive role model will enable school staff to provide an exciting physical activity menu for children, where everyone can reap the benefits.
Here are 6 simple ways you could use, to integrate physical activity in to your school day:

1. Planned Daily Activities

The daily mile may work for your school, a daily dance may work just as well or a daily workout.  We advise a vibrant and varied menu – offer something different every day or every half term.  This could also go some way to help all children find an activity they enjoy and hopefully would want to pursue.  Today, it is possible to find lots of interactive online activities to encourage movement and dance, yoga and functional fitness – search, search and search some more.  Involve the children in creating a weekly menu and give them some ownership – excite them in the planning stage and they will be a captive audience when taking part.

2. Active Curriculum

Physical activity isn’t just for PE lessons! Active lessons across the busy Primary Curriculum can help not only with academic learning but can increase motivation and enthusiasm, address different styles of learning that children may have, by focusing on the kinaesthetic, bringing learning to life in a fun and exciting way, using the creativity Primary teachers possess in bucket loads! Can you teach your maths topic through physical activity? Is there the opportunity to deliver your literacy lesson in a practical way that gets children out of their seats and moving around?

3. Active Playtimes

Opportunities to develop leadership coupled with the provision of activities at playtime is a win – win situation. The less sporty can sometimes be the most amazing leaders, showing empathy and understanding to the less active and promoting regular physical activity through fun games on a daily basis. Two baller, skipping with a long rope, hula hooping and What Time is It Mr Wolf – can you remember the joy they all brought?!  Training of lunchtime supervisors or employing a PE Apprentice can really support active playtimes!

4. Travel to and from school

How do the children travel to school? Walking trains, scooting and cycling are all options to consider – as are incentives in school for doing it.  Promoting this even once a week as a focus day and celebrating participation across school is a possible approach to help develop a healthy habit.  An active start to the day will have children entering school ready to learn! 

5. Regular Brain Breaks

During the school-day, regular brain breaks in the classroom are a positive way of ensuring learning is productive. Brain breaks can be energising, fun, stimulating and effective.  If you implement just 6 x 5 minutes opportunities in a day = 30 minutes of physical activity achieved!

6. The PE lessons count

EVERY SINGLE PE LESSON COUNTS.  Maths doesn’t get cancelled to practise the Christmas play – so why should PE?  A subject which brings so much to our pupils socially, benefits their physical health and fitness as well as their mental health and well-being, develops communication, leadership skills and problem solving surely deserves our full attention!  Sticking with the recommended 2 hours of PE per week, in 2x1hr lessons will cover Active 30 for 2 days (Just 3 days left to plan for)!  Although, we would still advise regular brain breaks and active playtimes, even on a PE day!

A commitment to value PE lessons needs to be a staff culture – something worth nurturing for the benefits it will reap physically, socially and cognitively!

 Is it possible in a busy school environment to include and provide opportunities for physical activity every day? Yes!

More practical ideas:

Schools can access some amazing resources on the free to access County Durham Active 30 Hub –  https://activedurham.org.uk/active30durham

Our Fit for Life programme is designed to support schools to implement Active 30 with 10 minute moderate to vigorous workouts and a series of classroom brain breaks – www.fitforlifeschools.org.uk

Our Active Ted resource pack can help you to track and reward participation as well as inspire activity at home – https://www.go-well.org/product/active-ted-pack/

 

We hope this blog was helpful.  For any further information please contact Annalisa Hopkins – annalisahopkins@go-well.org.

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Why moderate to vigorous intensity exercise is important for children and how to measure it.

“Although an activity of any intensity provides health benefits, greater intensity provides more benefits for the same amount of time. Activities need to be of at least moderate to vigorous intensity to achieve the full breadth of health benefits.” – UK Chief Medical Officers’ Physical Activity Guidelines
What is moderate to vigorous intensity exercise?

Physical activity intensity relates to how hard a person has to work to complete the task or activity. Due to different factors including fitness levels, age and health conditions, some people will be able to complete tasks and activities more easily than others. 

What one person might do to reach moderate to vigorous intensity might differ to another, for example during a fitness workout things like the amount of reps completed, amount of weight used or the type of activity may need to be adapted to challenge someones fitness needs. 

Moderate to vigorous intensity activities can include:

  • Functional fitness

  • Weight lifting exercises

  • Invasion games

  • Swimming

 These types of activities are ones which will challenge someones fitness levels and have the most health related benefits such as increase in cardiovascular fitness. – WHO World Health Organisation.

How to measure Moderate to Vigorous Intensity exercise

 There are many different ways you can measure intensity levels to see whether you or someone you are working with is reaching moderate to vigorous intensity levels.

 1. Rate of Perceived Exertion

In the Go Well Fit for Life programme we use a Rate of Perceived Exertion chart to show the different rates of exercise – these are based on how you feel or look after exercise. 

 This is a quick and easy method which requires no equipment and helps children to understand how it looks and feels to be in the moderate to high intensity zone.  We ask children to aim for 6-8 on the scale.  Click here if you would like a free copy of the Fit for Life Rate of Perceived Exertion Poster.

2. NHS Definitions

The NHS provide the following definitions of intensity:

“Moderate intensity activities will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you are working at a moderate intensity level is if you can still talk but not sing.” – NHS

 “Vigorous intensity activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you are working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath. In general, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity can give similar health benefits to 150 minutes of moderate intensity activity. Most moderate activities can become vigorous if you increase your effort.” – NHS

 So a simple ‘talk test’ at the end or during a session can give you a good indication of the what intensity levels children are reaching.

3. Heart Rate

 Heart Rate can be used to measure intensity levels.  The general calculation of maximum heart rate is 220 minus your age.  Therefore, if you are 20 years old your maximum heart rate would be 200BPM.  During exercise, to be working at vigorous intensity, you would need to raise your heart rate to 160BPM (80%).

There is, however, evidence to suggest that children tend to have lower maximum heart rates than the calculation shows.  Therefore, working from this calculation can lead to children exercising too hard which can cause dizziness and breathlessness.  That is not to say heart rate cannot be used to measure childrens’ exercise intensity, rather that caution should be taken and an accurate measure of each individual child’s maximum heart rate would be required to ensure safety.

 How this can help schools?

The Chief Medical Officers Guidelines recommend that children should have 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise per day.  Through the Active 30 agenda schools are responsible for providing at least 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity throughout the school-day. Break times, lunch times, PE lessons, active breaks in and outside the classroom and after school clubs are opportune times to implement some of the activities highlighted to support children to reach moderate to vigorous intensity.

So, if children want to have maximum health benefits then hitting moderate to vigorous intensity levels during physical activity is vital for this to happen.  Alongside this, measuring intensity levels is just as important so that children can have an understanding of how they look and feel when reaching the required intensity levels.

We hope you found this blog helpful.  For any further information please contact – matthewellison@go-well.org

 

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7 Top Tips on Rebranding your Organisation

We recently embarked on a full rebrand of our company – change of name, logo, mission and vision.  It was no mean feat!  

 

We navigated the process independently and we believe, successfully.  Here are a few things that we learned from the process that may be helpful for anyone considering rebranding:

No. 1 – Be sure!

Have a strong rationale and ensure the change links to the strategic aims of your company.  Changing your company identity is a transformational change that will affect everyone linked to your organisation – staff, customers, partners.  Consider the benefits of the change against the risks. You could use tools like a forcefield analysis to help – https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTED_06.htm.

 

Only go ahead when you are sure it is the right decision and the right time.

No. 2 – Have clear decision-making

Be clear from the beginning where decisions will be made.  Will it be the leader of the organisation?  Directors?  Management team?  Collective decision?  As we felt this was potentially a subjective decision, we were clear that the management team would make the final decision.  This was communicated clearly to the rest of the team from the outset.  Our team members knew that their input, their thoughts and their participation in the process were important and meaningful but they would not be responsible for the final decision.

No. 3 – Consult, research and learn.

Talk to people!  Involve as many people as possible actively in the process. Consult at the start, in the middle and just before the end. Hold workshops, launch surveys, have discussions.  Gather lots of data that you can use to inform decision-making by identifying themes.  Through our consultation we gained greater clarity on our USP and purpose.  Through researching other brands and processes we created parameters that we wanted our name to fit. 

This learning and identifying of themes in data were key in informing the final decision that we made – it made a subjective decision quite objective.

It is also worth noting here, that the final company name came from a member of team!

No. 4 – Don’t ask people what they like

It feels like the natural question to ask – do you like this?  What do you think about this?

In many ways it isn’t about what people like.  We all like different things, different shapes, different colours.  Your company brand isn’t looking to win a popularity contest, it is looking to reflect your organisation and what you do.  Your brand needs to connect people to your organisation, to it’s why, it’s purpose and it’s values.

 

Ask people questions like, what does this brand say about us?  See if the responses correlate to your values and purpose from your research/consultation.

No. 5 – Stay in the fog!

There will be times when you feel lost, when you feel it isn’t coming together, you aren’t going to make it, it isn’t going as well as planned, you can’t see the end.  That can be referred to as the fog of uncertainty.  Breathe it in, stay there, it is where the magic eventually happens.

 

In fact, we delayed our timelines at one point to stay in the fog a little longer!

No. 6 – Communicate – a lot!

As mentioned before, rebranding is a transformational change that affects everyone connected to your company.  Keeping people informed of the steps taken, completed, the next steps, the reasons behind certain decisions or elements will keep them on board, interested and even excited – depending on how you present it.  Be passionate when you communicate – it can be infectious.

 

The two videos posted below give an example of how we communicated our rebrand to our external stakeholders.

No. 7 – Have fun!

Any process is much better when you have fun with it, right? Rebranding is a creative process and it gives you a lot of opportunities to have some fun and spark some creative thinking.  You can do this with your team through the activities you plan for workshops you may hold.  You can do this with external partners/customers too. Here are a few fun activities we used:

 

Force fitting – present a random object/picture, write 10 words linked to that object/picture, create brand names linked to those words.

 

Object retrieval – find 3 objects around your house that link to your company’s why. Present them and explain them.

 

What would xxxx name our company? – Insert different well-known people into the question.

 

The purpose of some of these activities is to disrupt your thinking and bring about new perspectives, ideas or possibilities.  You will find more information about these activities and many more practical tools and techniques for creativity and innovation in the Idea Time book by Dr Jo North – https://bigbangpartnership.co.uk/idea-time-book-one/

We hope you find these 7 top tips helpful.   The launch video below illustrates the full journey taken.  If you are planning to undergo a rebrand process, good luck and enjoy the journey!

For more information on this blog contact: sarahprice@go-well.org