Moreton Bay is stepping up to The Billion Steps Challenge

Queenslanders are embracing The Billion Steps Challenge as a way to stay active and healthy during COVID-19, and the Moreton Bay Region is helping to lead the way.

With one billion steps, you could walk around Queensland’s border almost 60 times, or around the Earth’s equator almost 20 times. In fact, you could even walk to the moon and back, and still have almost enough steps left over to walk around Australia’s coastline. Yes, it’s a lot of steps – but it’s easy when Queenslanders do it together.

The  Billion Steps Challenge asks Queenslanders to log their daily steps and physical activity, with the goal of reaching one billion collective steps. It is a part of the Boost Your Healthy initiative led by Queensland’s new health promotion agency, Health and Wellbeing Queensland (HWQld), and is run in partnership with the popular and long-running 10,000 Steps program.

HWQld Chief Executive Dr Robyn Littlewood said Queensland has stepped up to the Challenge, and is well and truly on track to reach its target.

“Queenslanders have already taken more than 700 million steps towards The Billion Steps Challenge since we launched on Saturday 2 May. So far residents from across 300+ postcodes are logging their steps and we would love to see this grow and reach every region within our State,” Dr Littlewood said.

“This is an incredible effort by Queenslanders and a demonstration of what we can achieve by starting with a step.”

More than 36 million of those steps have come from the Moreton Bay Region, placing it in the top 10 of the statewide leaderboard.

The local Peninsula Power football club is just one of the local organisations that has organised its members to take part in the Challenge, with more than 60 players and committee members logging their steps. For longtime club member Michelle Feuerriegel, the Challenge has helped make exercise a regular part of her life again after a pair of devastating personal tragedies.

“I lost my dad to cancer in 2017 and my four-week-old granddaughter to SIDS in 2018. I was struck by grief, and self-care and exercise were not prioritised. Heartbreak took its toll, and I fell into bad habits, becoming a couch potato and feeling unhealthy and unfit,” Mrs Feuerriegel said.

“Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, all Peninsula Power football training and games ceased, so I suggested the club could look for alternative ways to come together. Taking part in The Billion Steps Challenge has been a great way for all of us in the community to stay active and connected whilst social distancing.”

The Boost Your Healthy initiative is partnering with some of Queensland’s favourite community programs to bring together ideas, activities, information and challenges designed to inspire Queenslanders to boost their activity and stay healthy during COVID-19.

Funded by the Queensland Government and delivered by CQUniversity for nearly 20 years, 10,000 Steps is a free program that encourages Queenslanders to increase their physical activity.

CQUniversity researcher and 10,000 Steps program leader Professor Corneel Vandelanotte said he originally expected Queensland to take eight weeks to reach its target of one billion steps, but the State is on track to smash those expectations. Queenslanders are embracing the chance to work towards a common goal – separately, but together.

“Because the steps are logged online, people can use this Challenge to come together while maintaining social distance. COVID-19 has led to a decrease in incidental activity – the steps you usually take just by going about your daily life, by going to work and going to the shops – but we’re seeing an increase in planned activity, as people are saying, ‘Okay, I’m sitting in the house all day; I need to do something, I need to be more active’,” Professor Vandelanotte said.

“Since The Billion Steps Challenge started, registration has gone through the roof, and I think that’s an expression of people’s desire to get active and get involved.”

While Queensland is doing well, there are still plenty of steps to go – and, Professor Vandelanotte said, every step counts.

“I would encourage everyone to register and get involved, even if they don’t think they can get to 10,000 steps a day. As long as they take more steps than they normally would, I consider that a success, because there is overwhelming evidence that taking more steps has substantial health benefits. Regular physical activity improves mood, happiness, and quality of life, and reduces feelings of anxiety, stress, negativity and depression,” Professor Vandelanotte said.

“Every step makes a difference.”

For more information on The Billion Steps Challenge and to see what other challenges are coming up for residents of the Moreton Bay Region, visit: www.hw.qld.gov.au/boostyourhealthy.

Learn about the 10,000 Steps program and sign up: https://www.10000steps.org.au.

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