Australia’s 10,000 Steps recognised as a global health promotion ‘bright spot’

Published:07 September 2017

An image from the latest 10,000 Steps campaign

A popular Queensland-led online physical activity promotion program, now available nation-wide, has recently been profiled by the prestigious British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The BJSM series on ‘Bright Spots’ highlights health promotion initiatives from around the world that work.

10,000 Steps originated in Rockhampton more than 15 years ago and today continues to be delivered by CQUniversity with funding from Queensland Health.

CQUniversity Professorial Research Fellow, Corneel Vandelanotte says the previous ‘Bright Spot’ was a Latin American initiative called ‘Agita Mundo’, “so they have a truly global focus for this”.

Professor Vandelanotte says the 10,000 Steps program is underpinned by the use of goal-setting and self-monitoring using activity trackers and a project website. As one of the authors of the BJSM article, he notes the 10,000 Steps intervention works because of its simple and clear message.

“The website provides free access to a range of resources to facilitate the implementation and adoption of the project,” the article says.

“One example is the ‘Workplace Challenge’ which encourages employees to form teams to complete a Tournament.

“Evaluations conducted for the project funder (Queensland Health) indicate that participation in the Workplace Challenge significantly increases the proportion of employees who report sufficient physical activity, engages employees who are at higher risk of chronic disease (eg, low active) and creates ‘friendly competition’ among employees, which keeps them engaged and motivated.”

The article outlines how the website also provides month-long individual challenges in the form of a ‘virtual journey’.

“Participating in these challenges increases engagement with the website and increases physical activity,” it says.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said the lack of physical activity in Queensland adults is a serious concern for the ongoing health of Queenslanders.

“Technology has sped-up our lives, but on the flipside has made us less active.  Workplaces are also becoming more sedentary, and people need to make the effort to move more,” she said.

“It is sometimes easier to do this when you have a motivational tool such as a pedometer or activity tracker, measuring and reminding you how many steps you have done.

“The 10,000 steps initiative is a fantastic program that promotes the many benefits to being more physically active, including assisting in weight management, reducing the risk of chronic disease and boosting energy levels and mood.”

The BJSM article says the project’s longevity is underpinned by its online presence supported by staff who provide technical support, and engage in activities that contribute to the project’s broader profile.

This two-pronged approach has contributed to the high levels of awareness (73.3% in 2014) of 10,000 Steps in Queensland, relative to other Australian public health campaigns.

“Ongoing project evaluation strategies are also interwoven with service delivery practices. These evaluation activities, the success of the original project and the partnership with Queensland Health have all contributed to the long-term (18+ years) continuous government support for the project.

“I am very grateful for the longevity of funding from the state government and look forward to continuing this important health promotion initiative.”

The article points out that 10,000 Steps has been responsive to the changing technology landscape, including integration of a smartphone app in 2009 to expand the project reach. 10,000 Steps recently also integrated popular activity trackers (i.e. Fitbit) into the website.

The public can get involved with the 10,000 Steps program by signing up to make every step count this SPRING at