Independence Blue Cross, the largest health insurer in the Philadelphia area, conducted an interesting nine-month walking study last summer. (At least, it’s interesting if you’re the creator of an activity-based wellness program!)
The study included six groups. Three groups participated in a “standard walking program” that tracked the number of steps walked each day, biometric screenings at various stages, and resources such as flyers and posters to promote the importance of walking. The employers had the option to do as much or as little promotion as they wished.
The other three groups were assigned to an “enhanced walking program” that provided the same trackers, screening, and promotional resources as the standard group, as well as incentives, coaching, feedback, competitive challenges, worksite-specific walking maps, and monthly wellness workshops.
As you might have guessed, participants in the enhanced program averaged 726 more steps on a daily basis and were more likely to meet the 10,000 steps-a-day threshold than those participating in the standard program. What is more noteworthy is the fact that participants in BOTH programs who increased their steps by 1,000 per day lost weight: on average, 3.8 pounds for men and 2.1 pounds for women. Participants who walked more also reported improved moods and better overall feelings about their health.