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Staff walking and pedometer project

Jobs in modern workplaces are often sedentary which means we spend a lot of time sitting down. To address this problem within SSWAHS, we encourage our employees to be more active during the work day. This 'incidental activity' makes it easier for people to live a more physically active life which is essential for good health.

The staff walking and pedometer project was conducted to see whether participants would walk more with the support of pedometers and guidebooks.

What we are doing
We recruited sedentary employees to participate in the project for 12 months. Once signed up, we gave them a free pedometer and Step by Step guidebook. The guidebook provided information and tips on how to increase incidental activity at both work and at home. Employees were also asked to fill in and mail back activity cards to record the number of steps they'd taken.

We set up control and intervention groups, with the latter group regularly receiving newsletters from us to help them deal with the barriers to walking, such as lack of time, poor neighbourhood design and limited social support.

Partners and funding
The guidebook was produced in conjunction with our project partner the Centre for Physical Activity and Health. The project was funded by the Health Promotion Service.

Evaluation
The project was a 12 month research study. To measure any changes in their physical activity behaviour, participants completed a structured 15 minute telephone interview both at the start and on completion of the study.

Of the original 332 participants who enrolled in the study, 205 were able to be contacted at 12 months, giving a 62% response rate. In the analysis, we looked at observed changes in those people we have complete data for. We used conservative intention to treat principles where we assumed those people we were not able to contact had not changed their physical activity at 12 months.

Overall, there were increases in physical activity in both groups at follow-up. There were no differences between the groups in walking (sessions or minutes), but there were greater increases in the intervention group in minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity completed per week and all physical activity minutes per week. Using appropriate statistical analyses, we did not find a significant effect, suggesting that there was no overall difference between groups.

Those who were still wearing the pedometer close to the time of the follow-up interview (within the month), and thought the pedometer was highly useful, were more likely to meet the public health recommendations for weekly minutes of physical activity.

In conclusion, the pedometers and guidebooks proved to increase physical activity for all participants. However, additional strategies to help people maintain physical activities levels should be explored.

More information
Contact the Health Promotion Service for more on 02 9828 5911 or Health.Promotion@sswahs.nsw.gov.au. To find out more about the Step by Step guidebook contact Dafna Merom from the Cluster of Physical Activity and Health on 9036 3249 or dafnam@health.usyd.edu.au.

Related websites
Alberta Centre for Active Living
Cluster of Physical Activity and Health