March 17, 2021Print | PDF
A competitive group of Wilfrid Laurier University community members traversed a distance greater than the Earth’s circumference as part of a month-long physical activity challenge.
Participants in the Sun Life Financial Centre for Physically Active Communities Community Step Challenge collectively logged more than 70 million steps and roughly 46,000 kilometres – about 6,000 more than the circumference of the Earth. The challenge was the first ever issued by the centre, which is led by Laurier’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education.
"Competitors have told us how much fun they had participating in something with other people, even if it was at a distance.”
“We thought a physical activity challenge could help motivate community members to get outside and get active during a time when New Year’s resolutions have likely fallen off and people are tired of being indoors,” says Pam Bryden, centre director and a professor and chair in Laurier’s Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education. “We had no idea how successful it would be.”
A total of 45 teams, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and community members, registered for the challenge, which saw team members work together to register the highest average number of steps on the MoveSpring app during the month of February. Competitors logged activities including walking, running, cycling and skating, which were undertaken following public health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While most teams that participated were from the Waterloo and Brant regions, the challenge attracted competitors from as far away as Quebec.
The winning team, the Dawson family, led by Laurier Professor Kim Dawson, averaged more than 30,000 steps per day. On the final day of the competition, Kim logged an impressive 50,000 steps.
“We are an active family and understand the importance of movement,” says Dawson. “We are also quite competitive, so the step challenge was a perfect activity for us.”
Dawson’s team, which included her husband Lance, two teenaged sons Ben and Gray, and Gray’s girlfriend Sarah, agreed to maintain a daily minimum step count, in addition to walking their dogs, weekend hikes and walking meetings.
In addition to the benefits of physical activity, the step challenge provided participants opportunities to connect with one another by exchanging messages and sharing photos within the MoveSpring app.
“Competitors have told us how much fun they had participating in something with other people, even if it was at a distance,” says Nicole Vandermade, program coordinator with the Sun Life Centre for Physically Active Communities. “The step challenge has been a positive experience.”
Bryden and Vandermade hope to make the Community Step Challenge an annual event and invite teams from other post-secondary institutions to participate.
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