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International Drive To 'Walk@Work'

10 February 2011

The University of Ulster is part of an international study aimed at improving the health of the workforce by encouraging them to walk at work.

The Walk@Work Programme is being carried out in collaboration with the University of Ulster, the University of Toronto, Canada and led by Dr Nicholas Gilson from the University of Queensland, Australia,.
An innovative project, it aims to increase the amount of walking that university staff undertake during the course of their normal working day.
The programme encourages individuals to gradually increase their walking in the workplace over a period of 10 weeks and provides them with access to an online support tool, which contains a range of practical support tools and strategies to help them achieve their goals.
Treasa Rice, Physical Activity Promotion Officer in the Ulster Sports Academy, said: “Physical activity of any type is very important for health and wellbeing and this research is important in making people aware of the benefits of regular exercise no matter how small.
“The participants are given a pedometer which they wear throughout the whole course of their working day and work towards gradually increasing their steps throughout the ten week programme. Their daily step counts are recorded on the Walk@Work website and the website will set targets for the ten weeks, based on their baseline measurements.
“By assessing the effectiveness of this online support programme to encourage employees to move more and sit less during their workday, it will determine its feasibility as a health-enhancing tool for university employees.”
Over 100 University of Ulster staff have signed up for Walk@Work and the project runs until Easter. The data collected will contribute research being conducted by Professor Marie Murphy from the Sport and Exercise Sciences Research Institute at Ulster, and will inform employers on how they can increase the health and well-being of their workers by encouraging them to incorporate short bouts of physical activity into their work day.
“We are hoping that the activeness of the staff doesn’t end when the study ends but rather gives them the motivation and encouragement to stay active,” Ms Rice said.