Posted: 12/01/21 by Fortitude Financial Planning
One drizzly day in early autumn, Sam suggested that we walk from John O’Groats to Lands’ End.
“Surely you’re not serious?!” we exclaimed. He went on to explain that he didn’t mean we should actually walk from top-to-toe of the UK – we should do it collectively and virtually. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is My Virtual Mission?
My Virtual Mission is a fitness challenge app which allows users to ‘walk’ famous routes virtually and set themselves a challenge in doing so. You can either tackle it alone or in a group. Sam heard about MVM in a blog about office fitness challenges and decided it sounded like just the ticket.
“I registered our team and created the route from John O’Groats to Lands’ End,” Sam explained. “Our route is a distance of 1,233.5 miles over 92 days and 10 team members.” If you’re quick on the maths, you’ll know that equates to around 123.35 miles each, or 1.34 miles each per day.
“There was some discussion about which way around to do it but we felt it would be easier going downhill!” Sam added.
This all sounds like great fun, but what’s the point? What inspired the team to take on such a mammoth challenge?
“We wanted to find a way to make sure we all get outside once a day for some fresh air. We’re aware that the winter months may be hard with the short days and there is a risk that we may spend all day at our desks without going outside in daylight!
We had the idea of doing a big walking challenge as a team which we could all contribute to. Once we had this idea we just needed the technology to implement it. Fortunately My Virtual Mission had already had the idea and worked it all out.
Everybody joined the mission by downloading the app and their smartphones automatically update the miles. All we have to do is remember to take our phones with us whenever we go for a walk!”
Walking away the winter blues
It’s a great initiative with twofold benefits – not only do we get some daylight and fresh air, but keeping active is one of the greatest tonics against seasonal depression, or the ‘winter blues’. Activity is believed to change the level of the mood-regulating chemical serotonin in the brain.
Dr Andrew McCulloch, former chief executive of the Mental Health Foundation, says: “There’s convincing evidence that 30 minutes of vigorous exercise three times a week is effective against depression and anecdotal evidence that lighter exercise will have a beneficial effect, too.” [x]
The team recently met up for a socially distanced walk in the pouring rain to get some miles in, collectively. Aside from being the closest we got to a Christmas party in 2020, being out and about in nature with an uplifting bunch raised everybody’s spirits.
Will they make it?
So far the team has walked 772.4 miles, with 461.1 remaining. That puts us at around Liverpool, wading through the Mersey. Niamh has contributed the most miles by a long way, helped in no small part by an energetic young labrador, but it’s very much a team effort so there are no individual prizes.
“That said,” Sam laughed, “If we do another walking challenge we’re considering having Niamh against the rest of us combined! We track our progress during our regular team meetings and it seems to have motivated everyone to get out walking more.”
The app’s pace marker currently says that we are 291 miles ahead of schedule. At this rate, the Fortitude team should be completing the mission – and virtually arriving at the very tip of Cornwall – early in the New Year.
The mission has certainly had its desired effect. It’s got the team moving, it’s improved moods, and it’s brought us closer together in a time when we’re all feeling very far apart. But the big question is, “would we do it again?”
“Absolutely,” Sam enthused. “We’re already discussing doing another challenge, but next time we want it to be somewhere hot!”