Can you be 'nudged' into walking more?

27 Mar 2017

More than 1,000 Victorians have been inspired to ditch their car and walk the short trips they do each day thanks to a pilot program aimed at commuters, families and school children.

The Change to Walking program is a collaboration between VicHealth, Victoria Walks and councils in Bendigo, Darebin, Geelong, Warrnambool and the Yarra Ranges. Incentives such as free public transport, coffee carts and new school drop off zones were used to encourage locals to increase how often they walked.

The Change to Walking program found:

  • Up to 94% of participants were influenced to walk more
  • Two thirds of people intend to continue walking after participating
  • Participants increased their total physical activity by up to 42%.

Victoria Walks Executive Officer Dr Ben Rossiter said encouraging Victorians to walk more and sit less was critical to improving health outcomes across the State.

“One in five Victorian adults don’t do any form of physical activity during the week, putting themselves at serious risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, cancer and stroke,” Dr Rossiter said.

“Despite being the most accessible form of exercise people are walking less than previous generations.

“The Change to Walking program trialled innovative approaches to make walking attractive, social and easy. We’ve found that if people are given the right incentives physical activity, such as walking, can easily become a part of their daily routine.”

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter said too many Victorians struggled to meet the recommended levels of exercise each week to benefit their health, despite the many proven benefits of regular physical activity.

“You don’t need to spend hours at the gym to stay healthy and active. Walking part or all of the way to the train station or to school instead of driving is an easy way to make exercise part of our daily lives,” Ms Rechter said.

“These results are encouraging and we will continue to build approaches that support getting more Victorians walking as a routine part of their lives.”

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