In September 2023, the Active Soles team attended the Spread and Scale Academy in Cardiff. Today, organisations around the country are celebrating the movement, encouraging their staff to be more active by allowing them to wear trainers to work.

Since it was launched the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with many colleagues opting to swap their traditional footwear for more active alternatives.

Not only have people reported improvements in their physical health, but their mental health too, as well as an overall boost to team morale and productivity.

This cultural shift in workwear has been embraced across Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, with Cardiff Council, Vale of Glamorgan Council and Cardiff Metropolitan University also backing Active Soles wholeheartedly.

Ruth Jordan, Assistant Director for Improvement, Implementation and Spread at Cardiff and Vale UHB, said wearing trainers to work has made a “massive difference” to her wellbeing.

“I’m a physiotherapist by background, so I was used to being on my feet all day, every day walking thousands of steps. Then I suddenly got another job which meant I was desk-bound,” she explained.

“I felt grumpy, lethargic and put on too much weight. It was terrible. But being given permission to wear trainers to work has made such a difference to getting up and about – and my step count has gone up no end.”

Ruth said seeing senior leaders also wearing comfortable shoes around the office has given others the confidence to do the same.

“We’re now having walking meetings, and a lot of our one-to-ones are on the go. It’s actually improved the working environment,” she beamed.

“And now I actually use active travel more. If you’re wearing uncomfortable shoes that give you blisters, you’re not going to do much walking. But now I get the train and walk most days to work, and I walk between [health board] sites which means I don’t have to drive the car and find somewhere to park. It’s so much better for the environment.”

Jason Vowles, a Digital Communications Officer for the health board, said wearing trainers has vastly improved his long commute to work from Roath.

“I feel more comfortable during the day, and I feel more inclined to walk around during my lunch breaks,” he said. “Because Active Soles is in place, people feel reassured that wearing trainers is acceptable.

“I definitely think other organisations should take this up. It’s already had a positive impact on my life and I can see more people wearing trainers to work – there’s only a positive uplift from this.”

Claire Beynon (pictured above), the health board’s new Executive Director of Public Health, has fully embraced the Active Soles movement and has described wearing trainers as making her feel more “bouncy and energised” throughout the day.

“I feel like I’m setting a direction and making sure that every day can be an active day,” she said.

“We know that sitting down for long periods of time increases your risk of conditions like heart disease, so just even getting up and going for a quick walk in nature can really make a big difference to people’s everyday lives.”

Active Soles was first introduced in Greater Manchester (entitled ‘Greater Manchester Moving’) and is backed by high-profile figures including its Mayor, Andy Burnham. On Wednesday, 31 January Active Soles is being celebrated in Cardiff and Vale and Greater Manchester simultaneously on social media to help spread and scale the movement.

You’re invited to join our celebration of #ActiveSoles and the positive impact it’s making on you and your friends, family, and colleagues.

Whether you’ve been a long-term supporter, or have only just learned about #ActiveSoles, we’re working to ensure that everyone has the freedom to move more during the working day.

Here are a few things you could do:

  • Wear your #ActiveSoles
  • Speak to colleagues/managers/networks about the positive impact of #ActiveSoles
  • Share your #ActiveSoles story on social media
  • Repost #ActiveSoles content on your social media channels
  • Share you/your organisation’s #ActiveSoles case story
  • Check out GM Moving’s Active Workplaces toolkit here
  • Review and update any organisational policies to empower staff to incorporate moving more into their working day.
Written by:
Mark Smith