Boosting fitness through walking and cycling in Weiz (Austria)

By News Editor / Updated: 07 May 2015

A Mobility - Health - Land Use Program has been carried out which deals with the transfer of physical activities into every day’s routine. The main goal of this program is to reduce short car trips and shift them towards walking and cycling without additional time consumption. The main argument / benefit to convince the participants is the increase of their own fitness.

Background & Objectives


Lack of movement is one of the most important factors leading to different health problems like heart/circulatory diseases, depressions, overweight and obesity, diabetes type2, hypertonia etc. Surveys in France, Switzerland and Austria show that the number of fatalities based on lack of physical activities is eight times higher than figures for traffic accidents and double the number related to PM10 impacts. This lack of movement is largely caused by the way of life like motorised transport habbits.
The idea is to motivate people via their personal benefit from changing their behaviour. The core idea of the program is the "transfer of motion and physical activity into everyday life". The "Activity Programme" takes 12 weeks and had the following objectives and targets:


  • The participants become aware of their mobility habits, understand their effects and identify opportunities for change
  • The participants (re)discover their city by foot and on bike
  • The participants are motivated to transfer more physical activities into everyday mobility
  • The participants should learn about and experience and understand the physical and psychological advantages and benefits of regular movement
  • The participants should act as multipliers for their families, friends and their surroundings







In this project several medical doctors from Weiz and a local fitness manager co-operated. Those who are patients of these doctors were invited to take part in the mobility / health programme.
The 12 weeks ' programme provides three evening sessions, a group meeting including presentations on mobility/movement and two fitness checks (before - after). During the kick-off meeting, the participants were given a Mobility / Health Diary especifically developed for this purpose. Participants could note every day to what extent they had achieved their personal activities. This facilitated qualitative and quantitative evaluation.>30 minutes of physical activities a day would be optimal. The classifying walking test was made as early as in the first project week (methodology of the UKK walking test). After 12 weeks, this walking test was repeated in order to measure the changes.
The case study is part of the overall INTERREG Alpine Space project VIANOVA.

The program was developed within a forerunner project carried out in Graz in co-operation with the Health Insurance Company Merkur where 100 clients who received a diagnosis "lack of physical activitiy" at their annual health check participated.




Project results: Average values per person:


  • Each participant covered during the programme time approximately 170km on foot and 100km on bike
  •     Each participant shifted in average ca. 92 car-km to walking and cycling
  •     All in all 1/3 of all kilometers were a shift from car transport towards cycling / walking, 2/3 were additional mobility
  •     All participants improved their fitness values in average about 13,1% within the period of 12 weeks


Structured interviews have been carried out with 12 people after three years after the end of the project in 2005. Nine out of twelve are still on a higher level of physical activity in their everyday lives than before the project started. Detailled results on long term effects can be found in the attached document.


The cost-benefit analysis of the approach has shown that appr. € 100 were invested in each participant. The analysis comprises design and implementation costs as well as the evaluations (including all the personnel costs) and the material costs for the walking tests. However, they did not include the catering costs during the meetings. This is to be compared to a mean value of one day of an employee's absence from work through illness. At an average salary of € 2000,- a month, a sick person costs appr. € 161 a day (incl. incidental wage costs but without treatment costs) This does not include the training and working costs of a person doing the work instead of the sick person. This makes it quite obvious that the costs for the programme would already be more than amortised if only 1 day of absence from work through illness for each participant were reduced by more movement.

Walking and cycling
Mobility management
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18 Jul 2006
07 May 2015