Improving the health and well-being of university staff by counting their steps: A pilot case study

Janet Sawyer, Joy Penman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

Abstract

This paper provides details of a pilot case study conducted at the University of South Australia's Centre for Regional Engagement with the aim of improving the health of university staff who tend to work in sedentary environments and spend many hours sitting while using a computer. The objective of the study was to determine how many steps were taken in a day by a staff member in the course of work with a view to increasing the number if found to be insufficient. It has been shown that walking is beneficial in terms of weight control, reducing heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, improving brain function and mood, and relieving stress. 10 000 steps per day is generally recommended to lower the risk of disease, obesity, and death rates. A nursing academic volunteered to participate in a 10-week pilot program. The staff member used a reliable digital pedometer to measure the number of steps taken at the end of each day and recorded these together with daily weight and blood pressure. Baseline measures were recorded in the first two weeks. In subsequent weeks steps were increased by 20% on the base average until a satisfactory level was achieved. Support and motivation was provided in the form of information on ergonomics and computer use, nutrition, and ways to increase the number of steps at work. The results showed that initially the participant walked a low 443 to 2193 steps at work depending on teaching schedules. This increased to an average of 3390 steps following involvement in the program. Total steps walked per day increased from a starting average of 5162 steps to an average of 8738 steps. The evaluation of the program included comparison of pre and post anthropometric measurements, perceptions of energy levels, and commitment to continue achieving the desirable number of steps. This pilot case study will be used as the basis of a larger program to emphasise the importance of complying with principles of ergonomics and provide guidelines as to how all university staff might increase daily steps as part of their work.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication45th Annual Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia Conference 2009, HFESA 2009
Pages60-72
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
EventHuman Factors and Ergonomics Conference (Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia) 2009 - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 22 Nov 200925 Nov 2009
Conference number: 45th

Conference

ConferenceHuman Factors and Ergonomics Conference (Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia) 2009
Abbreviated titleHFESA 2009
CountryAustralia
CityMelbourne
Period22/11/0925/11/09

Keywords

  • Health
  • Step counter
  • Steps
  • Walking
  • Well-being

Cite this

Sawyer, J., & Penman, J. (2009). Improving the health and well-being of university staff by counting their steps: A pilot case study. In 45th Annual Human Factors and Ergonomics Society of Australia Conference 2009, HFESA 2009 (pp. 60-72)