As the spring Step Count Challenge draws to a close, a team of researchers have published a study showing that the challenge is effective at changing physical activity behaviour.
Researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Stirling and the University of the Highlands and Islands pooled together anonymous data from four years of delivery and over 10,000 Step Count Challenge participants to better understand how step-count behaviour changes over the course of our 8 week challenge.
Dr Ailsa Niven, Senior Lecturer in Physical Activity for Health at the University of Edinburgh commented:
“As part of my role, I’m interested in learning about how best to encourage and support people to be active, working with external partners like Paths for All is a fantastic way to do that.
“Together with my colleagues Dr Gemma Ryde and Professor Trish Gorely, and working with Carl Greenwood, we have published robust evidence to show Step Count Challenge participants typically took more steps by the end of the challenge than they had done in the first week. By week 8 of the challenge, participants were taking an average of 906 more steps per day, or 6342 per week, than at week 1. Although more women than men participate, the benefits were evident for both groups.
This change equates to a weekly increase of over 60 minutes of moderate intensity activity and makes an important and meaningful contribution towards achieving levels of physical activity that are beneficial for health. We hope that our findings help to support continued investment in the challenge so more people can continue to benefit from taking part.
The latest Step Count Challenge saw 3,933 people take part from 219 different workplaces in Scotland. Participants racked up a total of 2,298,062,546 steps - the equivalent of 1,028,216 miles, or 40 times around the Earth! The Chief Medical Officer’s Physical Activity Guidelines for the UK state that adults should be active for at least 150 minutes each week, with a brisk walk being one of the ways to achieve this.
Carl Greenwood, Senior Development Officer at Paths for All said:
“It’s fantastic to have a talented and enthusiastic team of researchers interested in our challenge for workplaces and helping us demonstrate the impact the programme has. As well as the data reported in the study showing increased physical activity levels throughout the week, teams taking part also share numerous other benefits with us. These include feeling a boost in mood due to spending more time outdoors and feeling more connected with their colleagues, even when working remotely.”
The challenge aims to support employees be more active during the working day, connect with their colleagues in a fun way, improve their mental wellbeing, and connect more with the outdoors. The challenge is designed to encourage participants to increase their step count week by week and change physical activity behaviours by providing goal setting and step target functionality, and providing motivational content, activities and prizes throughout the challenge.