• Workplace exercise challenge shows technologies potential

A workplace exercise challenge using pedometers and social media has shown the potential technology has for improving health, according to a study involving almost 70,000 employees.

The challenge, which took place across 64 countries, consisted of office teams competing against each other, or other departments within their company, to see who took the most daily steps during a 100-day challenge. The participants could post their progress on a specially-made social media website.

The study found that workers on average increased their daily activity by 3,500 steps, exercised for almost one extra day per week, reduced sitting time by around 45 minutes daily, and lost about three pounds during the contest. The research and its findings were presented to the American College of Cardiology.

Study leader Dr Anand Ganesan, a cardiologist at Flinders University in Adelaide, said: “Getting people to be physically active and change their behavior is hugely challenging." He said the results demonstrate how using technology in a clever way can have a broad appeal and help fight the world’s number one killer, heart disease.

It has been acknowledged, however, that the study only looked at short-term results as opposed to the long-term effects. It isn’t known if the programme leads to lasting long-term health benefits.