Active-living challenge contributes to major VU research

VU river walkers

As part of our active-living program, VU is taking part in a 'Stepathlon' challenge that promotes fitness for our staff and students.

The program contributes to major research conducted in partnership with leading academics. Results of that research demonstrate clear links between physical activity and better mental health, as well as improvements in cardiovascular health, diabetes risk, sleep, general wellbeing, and more.

VU researcher leads mental-health project

The 2018 University edition of Stepathlon is looking to become the largest university mental-health research project, with VU’s Professor Maximilian de Courten as lead researcher.

Professor de Courten, a world-renowned public-health expert, has conducted research linking Stepathlon with significant improvements in mental health. Walking 10,000 steps a day, during the course of 100 days, is good for mental wellbeing, weight loss and blood pressure, according to Professor de Courten.

As part of Professor de Courten’s previous study he analysed the outcomes for workers who took part in the corporate wellness challenge, and published the findings in the journal BMC Psychiatry. He found self-reported depression or low mood reduced by 8%, anxiety by 5% and stress by 9%, while mental wellbeing increased 2%.

"This important mental-health study demonstrates that simple and inexpensive workplace-based interventions can make important improvements in levels of depression, stress and anxiety,” he says.

Take part in the Stepathlon program

VU is forming teams of five members to take part in the program from 1 October. Participants are encouraged to take 10,000 steps a day through everyday exercise such as 'walking meetings', lunchtime activities, and taking the stairs.

Other activities including walking, running, swimming, cycling, weights, yoga, boxing, Zumba, tai chi and pilates are counted towards step targets. Teams compete for the top spot on the leaderboard and challenge others to leagues contests for prizes.

Find out more and register for the program.

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