Independent evaluation of Reading’s recent ‘Beat the Street’ initiative shows the competition encouraged an extra 10% of the participants to increase their activity to meet Department of Health guidelines.
Beat the Street, Reading 2014 ran from 1 June in Reading and until 22 July in Mortimer, Theale and Pangbourne as 14,000 people walked 244,537 miles in eight weeks.
At the beginning of the competition, 35% of people reported meeting the Department of Health’s guidelines for levels of activity (30 minutes for 5 or more days a week). By the end of the competition, this had increased to 45%.
A survey completed by more than 1,000 Reading residents after the event found that Beat the Street was effective in increasing physical activity levels.
The independent evaluation was completed by The Evidence Centre and the headline findings were:
- 10% increase in number of people meeting Department of Health’s guidelines for levels of activity (30 minutes of physical activity for five or more days per week)
- 78% of people said Beat the Street helped them to walk more than usual.
- 12% of adults had a long-term condition such as COPD, arthritis or diabetes.
- 76% of people said they would try to continue the changes after the competition ended.
- Many people reported that Beat the Street got them out of their cars for shorter journeys.
- 94% said they would recommend Beat the Street to family and friends
- The main reason given for taking part was ‘having fun’.
Reading-based GP and founder of Beat the Street, Dr William Bird explained: “The results are statistically significant meaning there was a real impact in getting more people active. Importantly, Beat the Street got people out of their cars and walking and cycling. We also know from the research that 12% of participants had long-term conditions such as diabetes, arthritis and COPD (heart disease). Beat the Street got these people active too which is vital for their health and wellbeing and great for them to be part of a whole Reading project. We also know the challenge did much more than that by bringing a sense of fun and getting whole communities playing together.”
Rod Smith, Chair of North and West CCG who co-funded the competition with South Reading CCG said: “We’re delighted with the results of the survey of more than 1,000 people who took part in the recent Beat the Street project. The feedback was been overwhelmingly positive and it’s been a pleasure to hear people’s stories ranging from families who embraced walking, couples who discovered parts of Reading they hadn’t visited before and people generally using their cars less. The majority of people who took part have continued to make walking more a daily habit.”
As a result of meeting the target to reach the moon, £3,000 of funds have been released by Intelligent Health to the outgoing Mayor’s three funds; White Ribbon Campaign for victims of domestic abuse, Reading Your Way, which supports people with mental illness, and Reading Sport Aid Fund, which helps young people take part in sport.
Reading Beat the Street became the biggest and most successful active participation project in the country as the area walked an estimated 244,000 miles.
The message to anyone who took part is to hold onto their cards as we will be using these over the coming months to keep Reading moving and having fun!”