Injured Veterans Call On UK To Step Up Exercise 

The Help For Heroes 'Step 2 It' challenge demands participants take 10,000 steps each day for a month.

Military veterans are calling on the UK to walk every day for a month, after a study showed many veterans are losing out on the perceived benefits of exercise in the COVID-19 lockdown.

Step 2 It requires sponsored participants to walk 10,000 steps every day or 30 days, part of a fundraising scheme set up by Help for Heroes (H4H).

It follows a survey conducted by the military charity early this year, which raised concerns over the amount of exercise the forces community is getting during lockdown.

The challenge stresses the importance of setting a goal and sticking to it for an entire month, participants able to adapt the 10,000 step target to a consistent distance of their choice.

A number of injured veterans are coming out in support of the scheme, calling on the nation to get moving and support one of the several charities which have struggled financially during lockdown.

Former Royal Air Force Senior Aircraftman Rachel Williamson used the H4H Sports Recovery programme after an injury cost her the use of her use of her right arm and her military career.

Rachel says exercise was the tool used to take her from her "darkest time" to winning six medals at the 2018 Invictus Games in the Australian city of Sydney.

Invictus Games athlete Rachel Williamson credit exercise and Help for Heroes with her mental recovery from a physical injury (Picture: Help for Heroes).

Another branch of the H4H scheme is to target exercise specifically amongst veterans, after charity research from May found many use it as a coping tool but are participating less in lockdown.

Marathon runner John Owens was one of the youngest soldiers to serve in the Gulf War at just 17 years old, suffering two strokes during his career which ended in medical discharge after he was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Now 46, John credits H4H support and a love for running with rebuilding his confidence, encouraging the active public not to shy away from Step 2 It.

"Just going out, walking your dog, will accumulate the amount of steps that you require for that day's activity," he said.

"To give something back - these challenges are brilliant way to do that."

The initiative is also part of an effort to boost funds for H4H, amid what has been a difficult pandemic for the charity supporting former and serving personnel with injuries, wounds or illness.

Currently, the organisation expects a 40% loss on forecasted financial income.

"All of out major event, major sporting events, major challenges and activities have been cancelled," explained Hannah Lawton, Sport Recover Manager at H4H.

"The more money we raise the more support we can offer."