Currently 31% of children aged 2-11 are classified as overweight or obese, with these figures currently rising year on year¹. A large percentage of overweight and obese children become overweight and obese adults who then develop health problems and add strain to the NHS service. Due to these worrying statistics it’s more important than ever to encourage children to take part in physical activity. Increasing physical activity has a number of health benefits with the three listed below recognised as the most important and having the biggest impact.
- Optimising physical fitness, current health and wellbeing to support growth and development.
- Developing active lifestyles that can be maintained throughout adult life.
- Reducing the risk of chronic diseases in adulthood².
Step Success was commissioned by Hertsmere Leisure to deliver educational health and wellness programmes to three primary schools in Hertsmere. The first programme was delivered to Year 6 students at Woodlands Primary School during the autumn term. The programme was designed to identify current activity levels of each student and then educate them on the benefits of living a healthier lifestyle and becoming more active, which in turn would improve their health and increase their energy levels.
To make the programme engaging, fun and exciting Step Success integrated it into the subject the students were studying during the term, which also made it more relevant.
Step Success and Hertsmere Leisure produced a number of aims for the programme. The main objective for Step Success was to put a wellness programme in place to educate students on health and activity, plus guidance on how to make small changes to daily routines to increase overall activity levels.
The aims included:
- Build an activity engagement programme for the children in Year 6.
- Set up a group on the Step Success application and train teaching staff to use and administer it from a local level.
- Set up and plan the programme launch in conjunction with the teachers and support staff.
- Capture seven days of baseline activity data for each child.
- Support, educate and motivate students to be more active.
- Increase current activity levels of children in the programme.
- Provide accurate activity data showing the improvement in children’s activity levels as a direct result of using Step Success programmes.
Review of the programme
Step Success gave the students a presentation, during which they were shown the ActiPed+ device and told they were going to wear it on their shoe for one week. The students were not told that there was an online programme or activity tracking application which they could access, as the initial aim was simply to capture an accurate baseline. All students were issued with an ActiPed+ which had been pre-registered to them by Step Success. They were shown how to wear it and told to keep it on as often as possible.
The ActiPed+ is an all-day activity monitor that tracks steps, distance, calories burned and activity time. It automatically offloads this data to the Step Success website where individuals can track and share progress, challenge themselves and others, and set goals.
Over the next seven days the students were left to wear their devices and capture normal activity levels without any interference or programming from Step Success. After the first week each student had captured a baseline which could then be used as a comparison against future data during the wellness programme.
At the beginning of the second week Step Success delivered another presentation to the students, this time showing them the online application, their individual accounts and the activity data they had collected so far. The students were shown how to download activity data from their ActiPed+ and how the application worked. Step Success then revealed to the class that they would be trying to walk the equivalent of the journey from their school in Hertfordshire to Gambia, a total distance of 2,760 miles. This would mean each student needed to cover an average of 2.1 miles per day. The baseline data showed each student had covered an average of 2.12 miles per day, making the goal challenging but achievable.
Step Success set up the students with some personal challenges to collect over 5000 steps per day (which equates to 2.1 – 2.5 miles per day depending on the type of exercise). Each student was able to build their own profile page and this was displayed on a group leader board where students could view each other’s results. This helped to drive competition and increase activity levels. There is also a messaging system built into the system which allowed the students to communicate and share progress with each other in a safe and secure environment and which was managed and monitored by Step Success.
During the next five weeks Step Success visited the school three times to speak with the students, launch new challenges, update them on their progress and answer any questions which had arisen. Each time Step Success visited the school the students’ activity levels increased as a result of launching new challenges and releasing new elements of the application.
All the students engaged with the programme; some were more active than others, which was recognised early on. Having identified the less active students Step Success put extra measures in place to help them increase their activity levels. Some of the parents also got involved by helping their children take part in more activity or encouraging them to go for a walk instead of playing on the computer or watching television.
At the end of the programme Step Success delivered an awards ceremony where each student was presented with a certificate showing their individual activity results including Steps Taken, Calories Burnt, Distance Covered and Activity Time. Certificates were also given to the three teachers who took part in the programme (teachers’ data was not included in the final results). The awards ceremony was held during an assembly where the whole school were able to see the presentations. Step Success then revealed the total distance travelled by the class and whether or not they had succeeded in reaching Gambia.
Key Outcomes for the Group
- All thirty students engaged with the programme.
- Only two students lost their devices during the programme.
- All the challenges were well received and enthusiastically engaged with.
- On average each student increased their steps by 1,300 per day (24%).
- On average each student increased their activity by 17 minutes per day (19%).
- On average each student increased the distance they covered by over 1/2 mile per day (22%).
- Only four students did not increase their activity and two of those lost their devices. This resulted in 77% of students becoming more active over the six week programme.
- During the programme there were two in-service days. On these the students’ activity levels dropped by 85%.
- The group results were:
- 5,694,356 Steps taken.
- 267,874 Calories burnt.
- 2,962 Miles covered.
- 1,635 Hours 26 Minutes Active time.
- Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet: England, 2010, The Health and Social Care Information Centre.
- Young and Active, Health Education Authority.