Socially Responsible Community Exercise
Socially Responsible Community Exercise Activity
Australia’s eminent Professor, Dick Telford, stated that “The burden of physical inactivity to Australia is huge. We have an epidemic of diseases resulting from the metabolic disorders resulting from a lack of physical activity.”
Almost 9 million Australians do insufficient daily physical activity. This lack of physical activity doubles the risk of cardio vascular disease and Type-2 diabetes. Being overweight also increases the risks of breast and bowel cancer, depression, anxiety and injury from falls.
This ‘bad news’ was motivation for Trident to do something about it. We worked with Moreton Bay Regional Council to implement equipment and programs that could aid in exchanging sedentary behaviour for active leisure. The first permanent timing systems were commissioned on the Redcliffe foreshore, in March 2015. In collaboration with Council and their contractors, four timing points were installed 1km apart, along the waterfront, at Redcliffe Jetty, Suttons Beach, Margate and Scotts Point. Council provided the power connections. Communications are wireless (cellular) with data going to a Cloud Server. Timing ‘loops’ have been installed either under the concrete footpath or under boardwalks by approved Council contractors.
A 1m high water-proof pedestal stands beside the paths at the four locations. It houses the timing system, power and cable terminations. The outside panels of the pedestal explain what the system does and how people can engage in the program. It also provides advertising space for sponsors.
The objective of these systems is to encourage, measure and reward physical activity within the community. To this end a complementary online software platform has been designed, built and deployed to provide instant feedback.
These ‘Timing Points’ detect a ‘tag’ worn by a runner, cyclist, a parent pushing a pram or walking their dog as they pass by. This information is captured and stored, and presented in an easily accessible online Exercise Diary available from any computer or smartphone. In Moreton Bay, the tags can be obtained free of charge from Council, then all you have to do is follow the instructions that come with the tag and register online to access all the benefits.
In an age where there are all sorts of technologies available to collect this kind of data why is this particular technology and program better? The answer is “simplicity and convenience” – taking the complications out of people’s lives so that they can concentrate on what’s important – the exercise – not technology.
- It provides a sense of community. Council holds periodic events for people engaged in the program and to attract new ‘members’, where everyone can get together. The events organised by council attracted hundreds of people for the morning. This is great fun and this influx of people helps local business.
- The infrastructure, once installed, is available to anyone.
- Fitness groups under the guidance of personal trainers can easily see their own improvement and a ‘coach’ can see how their people are doing.
- Importantly it is so very easy to use – in fact, it couldn’t be easier! Just wear a tag and start to exercise. There are no complex downloads, that are frankly beyond the ability of many older or less technically savvy people.
- Even more importantly, it is accessible to anyone, of any ability, from any starting fitness level. It does not matter if you walk 500m, 1km or 6km or run like a ‘Gazelle’ – you are measuring your own improvement (but can still compete with others if you wish to).
Most importantly it’s FUN. ‘Animal Categories’ reward activity in a way that is engaging. You can progress from a ‘Snail’ to a ‘Wombat’ in small manageable steps. These ‘next challenges’ are small and achievable and are automatically given to you on the website when you check your Results Diary
These systems are in daily use (at any time of the day or night) by individuals, groups of people engaged in physical training with coaches, walkers, the elderly and clubs
Council also organizes fun family-oriented community events for all people who have a timing tag, and to encourage new people to sign up on the day. These events usually attract around 600-700 people. This has a positive spin-off for local coffee shops and eateries.
Schools also make use of the systems for activities like Cross Country events, making this a simple and rewarding exercise for teachers, parents and especially the children. Special schools (with disabled students) use it to reward their more physically able students by recording times and for those who are less able they can achieve recognition of the distance they completed. Club football coaches use it to implement pre-season fitness training measurement. The possibilities and opportunities are limitless.