Tech-enabled National Steps Challenge

With the rising incidence of obesity and chronic diseases such as diabetes, the Health Promotion Board (HPB), has introduced several programmes to help Singaporeans adopt a healthier lifestyle. Among these is the National Steps ChallengeTM, first introduced in 2015, which empowers Singaporeans to take responsibility for their health and wellbeing by leveraging and interfacing multiple technologies, such as wearables and mobile applications.

Integrating the use of steps trackers, a wearable device and the Healthy 365 mobile application, the National Steps ChallengeTM is run digitally from end-to-end – from registering participants, to tracking their performance and dispensing rewards via the mobile application. This digital touchpoint brings convenience, allowing healthy living to take place anytime and anywhere, enabling the programme to scale its reach by 4.5 times within three years.

Harnessing technology also enables HPB to gain valuable insights into participants’ behaviours, and design appropriate nudges to motivate them to engage in more physical activity. Daily fitness data based on step counts, average steps clocked and rate of reward redemption, are some insights that contribute to the constant refining of the programme to meet the participants’ needs. It makes the programme relevant and meaningful to the participants regardless of their profiles, whether they are in the workplace, community, or institutions of higher learning.

Leveraging technology has made the National Steps ChallengeTM more scalable and verifiable than the traditional way of running similar programmes, which was either trainer-facilitated, requiring set-up and logistics, or often self-reported, where data and outcomes may not be validated.

The National Steps Challenge™ has attracted 1.1 million sign-ups across three seasons, growing in scale and momentum. Since the introduction of the programme, 7% more Singaporeans are now engaging in physical activity and spend an average of 25 more minutes per session. Data also suggest that participants are habitually tracking their physical activity more than before.

The programme has seen increased engagement over time, with an improvement of 8% in steps clocked by participants who took part in all three seasons. The number of participants who completed all six reward tiers in Season 3, was also 15% more than that in Season 2.