University students and staff members compete in “step into health” challenge

February 19, 2014 1:52 pm

Students and staff members from five universities who are competing in Aspire Zone Foundation’s “step into health” challenge are attracting huge attention, only six weeks into the competition by walking a staggering 392,000 steps until the beginning of February.

Students at each university are encouraged to complete 10,000 steps a day. All steps of students are accumulated and universities are aiming to achieve the average of daily steps according to their student population by the time the competition comes to a close on February 21st.

In November 2013, Aspire Zone Foundation launched the “step into health” challenge between 5 competing universities in Qatar, under the slogan “support your university and participate in the challenge”. This initiative encourages physical activity and is aimed at all members of the university community; inspiring students and staff to walk more and slightly adjust their daily routines.

The five competing universities are the College of the North Atlantic, University College of London, Qatar University, University of Calgary as well as Stenden University. The Aspire team responsible for organizing this challenge also conducted sessions at Aspetar Hospital to outline the program’s benefits in addition to teaching observers the correct way to use a pedometer as well as showing them how to activate the “Step into health” application on their smart phones.

Aspire Zone Foundation announced the launch of its “step into health” new season by unveiling three initiatives. Smart phone applications were introduced as the first initiative, allowing users to track the number of steps walked as well as providing feedback and observations to the walker. The second initiative is providing members of the community, who do not own a pedometer, with help to set themselves a daily physical activity target by giving them marking tracks, detailing the number of footsteps at Aspire Park and Barzan Olympic Park. The third initiative is the educational and awareness campaign, highlighting the importance of physical activity in universities and colleges in Qatar.

Mr. Abdullah Saeed Al Mohannadi, a health promotion researcher at Aspetar, a member of Aspire Zone Foundation, said: “Preserving the health of our youth is vital – they are Qatar’s most valuable asset and represent the country’s intellectual resources, its masters of creativity and the drivers of this economy. We are very pleased with the positive contribution of students, members of staff and personnel in the “step into health” campaign and we are well aware of the positive outcomes that result from introducing successful initiatives and campaigns such as this one in order to inspire and motivate the community to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.”

He added, “The five universities were very responsive and eager to take part in the challenge. The program was launched in the form of a challenge to motivate and encourage the public to take part in physical activity. Studies suggest and prove that allocating time for exercise on a daily basis contributes to a large extent on a student’s concentration and overall academic performance.”

Michael Arbow, a lecturer at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar, said, “Having a program like “step into health” which is easy to follow, has a competitive element and is beneficial for your family, friends and yourself, is fantastic. Aspire Zone Foundation must be congratulated on this initiative and its commitment to raising health awareness in Qatar.”

An impressive 2,383 people have joined the competition, amounting to approximately four hundred thousand steps. As per beginning of February statistics, the College of the North Atlantic is currently in the lead, with an average of 145,913 thousand steps. Following is Community College of Qatar coming in at 2nd and 3rd place. Its male students have out-stepped the university’s female students with a total of 127,901 thousand steps. The females have so far reached 116,666 steps. Qatar University is currently in 4th and 5th place. Its male students have out-stepped their female students with a total of 87,535 and 68,439 steps, respectively. The University of Calgary in Qatar is currently in 6th place with 60,054 steps. Stenden University in Qatar is in 7th place. Its contestants have taken 46,850 steps. As the competition progresses, those results could change as contestants have until February 21, 2014.

Participating in the “step into health” challenge has many advantages; physically, psychologically, environmentally and economically. Walking can reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and cancer. It can also regulate blood pressure and can reduce or even stop obesity. Walking also plays a vital role in promoting confidence and a self-esteem. This in turn can have a positive impact on a student’s academic performance and an employee’s performance and productivity in the workplace. Studies show that regular physical activity can also boost concentration, enabling students to learn and function more effectively.

The program prompts members of the community to participate in physical exercise and consider the benefits of improving their dietary habits, sleeping habits and minimizing psychological and mental pressures resulting from their daily lives.
The “step into health” program has been launched in accordance with Aspire Zone Foundation’s vision in promoting the significance of physical exercise and its vital role in leading a healthy lifestyle.

The first edition of the program was launched in December 2012. Since then, the “step into health” program has exceeded 28 thousand members of the Qatari and Ex-pat Community take part.