Taking steps towards a healthier university

29 May 2013

Staff at the University are moving towards healthier lifestyles one step at a time by participating in the Global Corporate Challenge.

The challenge aims to get University employees to be more physically active. Simple activities such as taking a walk during your lunch hour, opting for a walking meeting with colleagues, or taking the stairs instead of the lift will all help to get people moving more and sitting less.

It is an important health message which Professor Adrian Bauman from the University's School of Public Health wants more people to hear.

He says the scientific evidence suggests that sitting for prolonged periods is a health issue even if people are already active - in other words, even if you walked to work, or swam after work, sitting down at work all day without getting up can still be hazardous to your health.

However, Professor Bauman says the health consequences of prolonged sitting could be avoided if we simply stand-up through the day!

The University-wide challenge, consisting of 81 teams and 567 participants, got off to a roaring start with a BodyJAM group dance on Thursday 23 May.

Associate Director of Health and Safety Jon D'Astoli said this initiative was a good way to help the University community to be more active.

"We wanted to introduce this program to promote a healthy lifestyle, build team work and create some friendly competition. Getting up and going for a walk is something that nearly everyone can do, you don't have to compete in a marathon. Small changes to your daily routine can be very effective" Jon said.

In accordance with the Healthy University Initiative, a key point of difference between the University of Sydney and other organisations involved with similar health and wellbeing activities is that our programs are evidence based validated and seek to expand the existing body of evidence.

Researchers from the Prevention Research Collaboration in the Charles Perkins Centre are measuring the effectiveness of the Global Corporate Challenge for University of Sydney participants. Baseline measurements have been taken of 450 participants who have volunteered to participate in the study. Their progress will be tracked during the 16 weeks of the challenge and beyond to determine how effectively this program improves the health and well being of those involved.