Walking campaign in Odense – encouraging older people to walk more

In September and October 2009, a four week walking campaign was carried out in the City of Odense with the aim of encouraging older people to walk more by arousing their awareness concerning how much or little they are walking every day. This was done by offering a pedometer to older people and arranging walking trips to different places in Odense. Approx. 500 older people participated in the campaign.

A pedometer counts the number of steps a person is taking. Thus, it becomes visible how much or little a person is walking every day and this awareness often results in an increase in the number of steps. In this way, the idea was that the participants would increase their daily number of steps throughout the four weeks the campaign lasted.

In order to see if the participants increased their number of steps we asked them to register them each week. Each registration was entered in a weekly competition.

The walking campaign lasted four weeks and was carried out by the City of Odense with the support from Senior House Odense, the Council of Aged and Dansk Arbejder Idrætsforbund.

Background & Objectives

Walking is the ideal way to exercise for older people, because it is simple, does not require a lot of equipment and can take place at any time and at all places.

In this campaign, the target group was defined as people who were 60 years old or older.

Implementation

The campaign was planned in cooperation with different organisations representing older people. In the planning phase it is important to focus on communication and marketing, since these aspects are crucial in order to succeed. Here, it can be a good idea to work together with organisations representing older people and to use their network in order to reach as many people as possible. In Odense's marketing campaign, there were articles in two newspapers, posters and brochures on liberties, sports clubs, culture places, different organisations etc.

In addition, it is important that the pedometer is simple and easy to use. Here, adding a manual on how to use the pedometer is a good help. It should be noted that the price of a pedometer varies a lot. It is important to make sure that the pedometer has a high quality.

When planning the walking trips, it is a good idea to have a guide participating who can tell more about the area people are walking in – for instance about the history, future plans etc. Another idea could be to serve coffee and cake afterwards in order to strengthen the social aspect.

It was possible to sign up for the campaign in four different ways.

  1. by telephone
  2. by Internet
  3. by showing up at the municipality
  4. by showing up at a larger local event


In relation to the registration of steps it is important that the participants can register their steps online and by paper, since not everyone in the target group is familiar with a computer and the internet.

The walking campaign was founded by the AENEAS project.

Conclusions

We evaluated the campaign by sending a questionnaire to the participants. Approx. 100 participants returned the questionnaire. Among other things, the evaluation showed that 40% intend to walk more in the future and 66% would recommend the campaign to others.

Furthermore, approx. 220 participants registered their steps each week. This registration showed an increase in the average weakly number of steps during the four weeks – though with a small reduction in the number of steps between the second and third week. Please see the figure:

The figure shows the average number of steps for each of the four weeks.

The participants were between 55 and 93 years old – average age was 67. Respectively, 40% men and 60% women participated in the campaign.

It is relatively easy to carry out a similar campaign in other cities, since it is a simple campaign. Communication and marketing are the main challenge – here it would be a good idea to work together with different organisations representing older people. In addition, it is our experience that it is a good idea to distribute the pedometers at a larger local event.

Contact Person
Mrs. Dorthe Gyldenlund Råby
Firm: City of Odense
Address: Nørregade 36-38, 5000 - Odense C, Denmark
Phone: +45 6551 2750

The AENEAS project is supported by:
Inteligent Energy
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It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the European Communities.
The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.