Travel SMART's pedometer challenge
Helping people to get more active and improve their fitness through our pedometer challenge.
In early 2016, Travel SMART and Public Health Surrey ran a pedometer challenge with staff at Surrey County Council with the aim of improving employee well-being by increasing the amount of walking done on a daily basis. The concept was simple – participants were asked to add more steps to their daily routine over a 6 week period by walking part of their commute or going for an extra walk at lunchtime or in the evening. We provided them with a free Travel SMART pedometer to count their steps; a step chart to record progress; and a booklet detailing the benefits of walking as part of a healthy lifestyle.
The ultimate goal was to reach 10,000 steps a day, which is the amount recommended by the NHS as a good level for keeping us fit and healthy. It takes the average person about 10 minutes to walk 1,000 steps, so a total of around an hour and a half of walking throughout the day is all that was required.
How did the Pedometer Challenge work?
- Participants had to sign up and answer a few questions on their current walking habits.
- Pedometer Packs were available to collect from four of Surrey’s offices.
- From the start of the challenge, participants were encouraged to put their pedometer on first thing in the morning and record their daily steps, using the step chart, for 6 weeks. The Challenge ran from the 18th January until the 29th of February.
- At the end of week 6 (after the 29th February), a short survey was sent out to participants to see how they got on with the Challenge. Participants who completed the survey were entered into a prize draw to win a Fitbit worth £80.
The results of the challenge were extremely positive. Over 500 Surrey staff participated in the challenge and approximately 50% of these participants responded to the follow up survey.
Before the challenge, 36% of participants walked continuously or more for 30 minutes on 3 days or more, however this increased to 81% after the challenge.
"On the back of the challenge I initiated some step challenges with my colleagues, and we're doing a joint 'walk to Rio' challenge for Sport Relief."
Approximately 50% of respondents noticed that their mood and fitness levels had improved as a result of the challenge. Reduced stress was the third most cited health benefit, which was realised by around 30% of respondents.
On average, participants increased their steps by 2,400 per day, going from 6,500 to nearly 8,000 steps per day. From this result we were able to quantify the economic benefit of our walking intervention using the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Health Economic Assessment Tool (HEAT):
- Average mortality rate of walkers decreased by 5%
- Average annual benefit (if walking levels sustained) is £44,000
- Cost of the challenge was approximately £4,000
- Cost benefit over 1 year is 1:11
I had good days and bad days but it did make me think of little ways I could increase my steps, by parking further away from the entrance to shops, work and my house, and going for a walk round the building during the day when I got a chance. I've now given the pedometer to my partner to see how he does!
Don't stop now! Here's some more ideas for keeping active
- Try something new with Active Surrey's Activity Finder
- Motivate your staff by signing up to the workplace challenge
- Get guidelines on how much you activity you should be doing at Healthy Surrey
- Convert other activities into steps