As part of the Smarter Travel Workplaces programme, the Irish National Transport Authority holds an annual Pedometer Challenge to encourage employees to make smarter travel choices, shifting from car use to walking. In 2012 over 4,000 people from 52 workplaces took 1 billion 274 million steps!
Background & Objectives
The Smarter Travel Workplaces programme works with large workplaces in Ireland to encourage modal shift among staff. The Pedometer Challenge encourages walking for communting journeys, during the working day and at any other opportunity. The Challenge is run in conjunction with the Irish Heart Foundation, threfore the secondary objective is to encourage participants to meet the National Guidelines for Physical Activity.
Due to the successful results in modal shift, activity levels and benefits to workplaces in the previous 4 years, the fifth annual Pedometer Challenge was launched. Partner workplaces were invited to participate. A training day was held for key contact people in each workplace who would take on the role as coordinator of the challenge within their workplace. Company coordinators were provided with posters and emails to promote the challenge to colleagues. To sign up participants were organised into teams of between 3 and 6 people and team captains registered, logged steps online and purchased pedometers and step log books on behalf of team members.
During the challenge emails were sent to motivate participants. These included tips to increase steps, how to get more out of a walk, details on the ‘virtual’ walk and spot prizes of the week. The Challenge website www.pedometerchallenge.ie and Facebook were utilized as another means of communicating with participants.
Following the challenge>a prize giving event was held where 'top teams' and various other winners including the workplaces awarded the Best Workplace Award were invited to attend the ceremony and photo call. Certificates of Participation and a post-event newsletter were distributed to Coordinators and participants.
A post event evalaution was performed with 24% of participants completing the evalaution survey. The main results were:
- 94% of participants stated they increased activity during the challenge;
- 94.3% met the National Recommendations for Physical Activity during the challenge, an increase of 57% from before the challenge;
- Those walking to work in the participating companies more than tripled;
- Over €5,000 was raised for the Irish Heart Foundation by participants;
- 97.7% of participants who completed the evaluation stated that they plan to continue to be active after the challenge had finished.
Other benefits stated by participants included:
- Enjoyed being part of a team (70.5%);
- Increased fitness(67.8%);
- Felt good about themself (57.5%);
- Boost in staff morale (49.2%);
- Reduced stress (20.1%);
- Lost weight (19.5%) and;
- Made new friends at work (17.8%).
Over 90% of coordinators commented that the Pedometer Challenge had positive effects on team building and team spirit. They also commented that the challenge raised awareness of activity levels, encouraged staff to walk to work and increased stair use. Coordinators also cited improved staff morale and stress reduction as other benefits of participating in the Pedometer Challenge.
In co-operation with SYNAPTIC