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Beat The Street successful in tackling inactivity in Suffolk!

Beat the Street – Sudbury and Great Cornard’s innovative walking and cycling game – has helped reduce levels of inactivity and encourage residents to get moving, according to a newly released report.

Beat the Street transformed the communities of Sudbury and Great Cornard into a giant game last Autumn. From 21 September to 2 November 2016, beeping and flashing sensors called Beat Boxes were placed across both areas with residents challenged to tap as many as possible to earn points and help their chosen school or team win hundreds of pounds worth of prizes.

The walking and cycling challenge saw more than 4,000 local residents travel 52,000 miles over the course of seven weeks. The initiative was delivered by Intelligent Health on behalf of Suffolk County Council to encourage residents to walk more and increase levels of physical activity.

Participants in Beat the Street were surveyed six months after participating in the challenge to see whether the game had long-term impact on their health and physical activity behaviour. At the start of Beat the Street, 8% of players reported as being inactive – doing 30 minutes of exercise for just zero or one day per week. Six months later, only 2% of players reported as inactive.

In addition to the reduction in inactivity, the survey showed Beat the Street also saw many other positive results:

The proportion of people who reported walking for travel for 15 minutes or more on 5-7 days in the past week, rose from 67% before Beat the Street to 75% six months later.

The proportion of people meeting the Chief Medical Officer Guidelines of 150 minutes of exercise per week rose from 58% before Beat the Street to 66% six months later.

79% of respondents said that they had continued the changes they had made to their activity as a result of Beat the Street.

As a result of the changes in physical activity, it is estimated that Beat the Street will lead to savings of £216,423 to local healthcare over the next five years.

Abdul Razaq, Director of Public Health at Suffolk County Council, said: "These figures are very encouraging. The local community enthusiastically embraced Beat the Street during the game phase but, promisingly, it seems to have been the catalyst for many of them to continue to lead a more active lifestyle since. This is important because being physically active can help you lead a healthier and happier life and can significantly reduce your risk of major illness such as heart attack or stroke by as much as 50% and early death by 30%.”

The report comes hot on the heels of the recent decision by Sport England to invest £160,000 in Suffolk over the next 12 months to enable Suffolk County Council to deliver a range of activities that will help encourage more people to be active and, in doing so, support Suffolk’s long-term ambition of becoming the most active county in England.