Aimed at students and staff within the campuses of Qatar, the Step into Health in Campuses (SIH) initiative is a healthy lifestyle campaign by Aspetar to promote walking and all its health benefits.

Launched in November 2013, the SIH team of the Healthy Lifestyle Programme (HLP) connected five universities – Stenden University Qatar, College of the North Atlantic in Qatar (CNAQ), University of Calgary Qatar (UCQ), and the male and female campuses of both the Qatar Community College (QCC) and Qatar University (QU) – by distributing pedometers for students and staff to use. The campaign, which supports the Qatar National Vision of 2030, was a great success with more than a 50% active participation rate and 2,400 members, made up of both students and staff, who achieved a staggering 362 million steps in three months.

Health Promotion Researcher, Abdulla Saeed Al Mohannadi, said:

We encourage all students and staff members of the SIH in Campuses initiative to benefit from such a great health programme, to walk more and look closely into their active behavior, and to realise that together we can create a healthier, active community that is also in line with Qatar’s National Vision 2030. It is our aim to implement walking as a form of physical activity in campuses, but also to offer more information about healthy active lifestyles through our new upgraded website and mobile application.’

Over the last several months, the HLP team at Aspetar have once again been preparing for the new season of this project: the Step into Health in Campuses 2014-2015 initiative. Eager to involve more Qatar universities, they will be visiting the existing participating universities and adding six more: Northwestern University in Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQ), Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ), Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar (WCMCQ) and Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, thereby aiming for a bigger promotional approach and increasing motivation for members to get active and achieve great results.

The SIH team at Aspetar will enter all 13 campuses to implement this exciting health drive from 16November to 4 December 2014, when they will not only encourage students and staff to walk more, but will similarly inspire them to make an active behavioral change. This years’ upgraded mobile application and website employs more social media communication to allow more interaction between members, and also includes upgraded health features for better control of physical activity performance, calorie intake and sleep patterns.

Known to help increase wellbeing, walking has been shown to improve self-esteem, self-perception, body image, school results, nutrition, sleep patterns and stress levels, and to prevent cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, obesity and osteoporosis. Challenging the recruits to walk more, this initiative will be followed by the launch of the walking challenges, which also aim to increase participation in sport programmes to support and facilitate the well-being of students and staff in this new, emerging healthier Qatar.

In addition, the Inter Universities Walking Challenge and the Individual University Walking Challenge, Aspetar will launch on 7 December 2014, ending on 14 March 2015, and will conclude with an Awards Ceremony on 25 March 2015. Chosen based on a random selection, valuable prizes will be awarded to individual walkers that averaged 10,000 steps a day over the challenge period, as well as to the top three universities. The ceremony will also applaud and recognise the efforts of all the universities for joining this exciting project, generating healthy campuses, and building active educational communities.

Aspetar Step Into Health in Campuses challenge could not have been achieved without RasGas, our sponsor, to whom we are grateful for continuing to support our health initiative and its implementation within different communities