Active Soles: Changing the way we think about workwear to promote physical activity in Cheshire and Merseyside


Active Soles is a movement to change the way we think about workwear, based on the belief that active workplaces lead to happier, healthier people which in turn leads to greater creativity, better problem solving and improved productivity.

The Active Soles movement started in Greater Manchester, when two leaders within the Council had a conversation about why they felt the need to wear uncomfortable shoes to work in order to feel professional. Realising that this was a problem that many people faced, they decided to do something about it – you can read their story here.

Since then, Active Soles has been adopted across Greater Manchester, Cardiff and has spread to other parts of the country, with the goal to make wearing comfortable shoes in the workplace the norm, not the exception. This could be trainers or flat shoes – whatever people are comfortable in that helps them to move more. By encouraging staff to wear comfortable shoes to work, the movement seeks to enable more staff to walk to, from and during work, have active lunch breaks away from the office, and arrange outdoor meetings.

Health and care leaders now want to bring Active Soles to Cheshire and Merseyside, and there is early support for the scheme from the Chairs of the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership and NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, as well as the Cheshire and Merseyside Directors of Public Health and Population Health Executive Board (the Champs Public Health Collaborative).

The idea of Active Soles aligns closely with All Together Active, the subregion’s strategy to support those in Cheshire and Merseyside to become more physically active. The strategy was commissioned by Cheshire and Merseyside’s Population Health Board and has been developed by the two Active Partnerships in the subregion, Active Cheshire and MSP, supported by Sport England.

To kickstart awareness and uptake of the movement, health and care leaders from across the region will be swapping formal shoes for active footwear at board meetings and other high-profile events, to raise awareness of the benefits of active lifestyles and to set an example for their staff. The hope is that this is just the beginning of a large-scale movement across organisations and workplaces throughout Cheshire and Merseyside, that will see enormous benefits to the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Louise Gittins, Chair of Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, said:


“I am excited to see the beginnings of such a positive movement in Cheshire and Merseyside. Active Soles has already had a great impact in other areas such as Greater Manchester and Cardiff and we have some big plans to cultivate and embed the idea of ‘comfortable feet’ and ‘more movement’ into workplaces all across our communities.

“We all know that undertaking regular activity is essential to healthy living. Our All Together Active Strategy asks leaders to set examples and enable others to become more active. Research shows that workplaces have great opportunities for people to be more active, but some things can get in the way, whether that be HR workwear policies or lack of leadership support.

“The ask I’d like to put to my colleagues is simple – wear shoes that are obviously designed for activity, such as trainers, when undertaking your roles. Not only should you begin to see an improvement in your own activity levels, you will also make a big difference in your organisations by starting to encourage staff to do the same.”

Raj Jain, Chair of NHS Cheshire and Merseyside, said:


“Many of our workplaces in the NHS already have staff that do many thousands of steps every day, particularly those who work in hospital wards and other busy clinical settings. However, there are many staff in the health and care sector that do not have physical activity built into their everyday work.

“Active Soles is a brilliant initiative that will enable staff to be more active, and to kickstart promotion of this, I will be wearing trainers to future meetings and events. Although the thought of this makes me uncomfortable – no doubt due to decades of being conditioned to wear formal workplace attire – evidence shows that by overcoming this discomfort, we can make an impact on encouraging staff to be more active.”

Professor Ian Ashworth, Director of Population Health for NHS Cheshire and Merseyside and the Champs Public Health Collaborative’s Lead Director for Population Health, said:


“I am very happy to see Active Soles starting to reach our subregion, which will make it just a little bit easier for us all to get our steps in and move a bit more throughout the day. This is so important, as the evidence tells us that physical activity can help you lead a happier and healthier life, as well as help lower your risk of developing many long-term conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and some cancers. This is a great way for us all to become All Together Active.”


You can learn more about Cheshire and Merseyside’s All Together Active Strategy at

To find out more about NHS Cheshire and Merseyside and the Cheshire and Merseyside Health and Care Partnership, please visit:

To find out more about the Champs Public Health Collaborative, please visit:

Content provided by NHS Cheshire and Merseyside.

Published on Tue, 21 May 2024 06:00:00 GMT
Modified on Sat, 13 Jul 2024 11:34:21 GMT