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The One Million Step Challenge changed my life – Helen’s Story

Helen Brown in garden smiling


I just wish he was here, but the challenge is such a positive thing, it’s given me something to work towards.

Helen has been taking part in the One Million Step Challenge for four years as a way to get fit and channel her grief from losing her father and brother into something positive.


Channeling my grief

My brother passed away at age 54 from a diabetes related illness just three years after my dad passed away. I needed something to do for myself to cope with everything and then at a Slimming World meeting I found out about the One Million Step Challenge so decided to sign up.  

The challenge helped me deal with my grief. My brother, David lived with type 2 diabetes for quite a few years. He ran his own business and was a busy person which meant his health went on the backburner and unfortunately, he didn’t really look after himself. He went downhill quite quickly; he was in and out of hospital and his oxygen levels were low, but it was a real shock when he passed away, and it changed everything for everybody. David had so many plans for his retirement, he planned to retire at 55. 

I always think about them when I’m walking. I feel closer to them when I’m outside and on a hill, nearer to the sky. During lockdown I just got out as much as I could whilst sticking to the rules. If I didn’t have walking, I don’t know what I would have done. The challenge has given me such a love of walking and photography. Bad things have happened and it’s such a shame they’re not here but there is some good that’s come out it. 


Taking on the challenge

As well as honouring David and my dad’s memory, I wanted to find an exercise where I could lose weight  and maintain that weight loss. It seemed like such a big challenge, one million steps! But as I got into it, it got easier. I was determined to do it and finishing felt like such a massive achievement. The support from other steppers on the Facebook group was amazing, it was so marvellous.

After I completed it, I just wanted to do more. I’m part of a menopause group on Facebook and we all decided to push ourselves and do 1.7 million steps together. Doing the challenge means I’ve made more friends through the One Million Step Facebook group. And spent more time with existing friends, walking. I go for a walk most days now, I know that’s what’s keeping my fitness up. Every year I look forward to it and I lose a bit of weight each time I take part. I feel now like everything is possible. 

How I reach my daily goal

One million steps sounds like a lot but once you’ve done it a few times it seems more achievable. This year I’m going for two million steps. I need a higher target and some pressure to motivate me some more, I think you need something out of your comfort zone sometimes. The end goal seems so far away but with people supporting you, it keeps you going.

I work as a carer doing home visits. I worked in an office but eight years ago I wanted to do something different and give back. I wanted to be out and about, meeting people and talking about their stories. I can do so many steps at work by walking to clients houses and going for walks with them too. Gardening also helps me achieve my daily goal, working in my mum’s garden - which is quite big – means I do a lot of steps.

I do the bulk of my steps in the morning, if you go for an early morning walk you’re set up for the day and feel like you’ve achieved something. It makes your day more enjoyable. I go walking with friends two or three times a week, but I also love to walk by myself, I’ll put my walking playlist on or a podcast and just be alone with my thoughts.

You have days when the weather is bad and you don’t want to go out for a walk but seeing other people on the Facebook group out and about makes me think well if they’re going out, I should go out too. Then, when you’re out and you see the birds and feel the benefits to your mental health it’s the best feeling. I always feel better when I’ve been for a walk. I used to struggle going up hills, I’d be out of breath but now it’s fine - it’s a good measure on your fitness. 

Advice for others

Just go for it and try the challenge out. However many steps you do is brilliant, it’s what you can do at that point of your life. If you do less than what you planned to do, it’s still more than what you would have done before - it’s still an achievement and it’s amazing how your fitness can increase so quickly.

It makes you want to explore more. Even in the UK, we have such great places to walk. I meet up with friends, put our t shirts on and get out. The friendships you make along the way can change your life. There’s so much support from the Facebook group and you meet so many inspiring people. I’ll always take part as long as I can. 


Raising funds for a good cause

We want to raise as much as we can but I like to think every step counts and every pound counts. If you tell people what you’re doing they’ll support you. You don’t realise how many people are proud of you. 
I told the butcher what I was doing and he was so impressed and he donated £10. I’ve had strangers donate through family too. I just keep sharing my page online and make sure I keep my progress and story updated. It’s hard when you’ve done it for a few years but sometimes it’s about raising awareness. If it comes up in conversation, I’ll tell people what I’m up to. 

I donate to myself each month; it was a promise to myself that I’m going to do this. It’s not much but it encourages me to keep going. 
The rewards are great too. The medal is very important to me as it’s like a memory. I’ve got the medals on the wall next to a picture of David. It’s like a celebration of his life. I just wish he was here, but the challenge is such a positive thing, it’s given me something to work towards. 

I’m so glad I found the challenge; I just wish I’d found it sooner.  



Sign up for the One Million Step Challenge today.

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