The University of Southampton

Southampton staff and students sign up for the GofIT challenge

Published: 
4 February 2013

A new initiative is aiming to increase the well-being and physical activity of staff and students at the University of Southampton.

The GofIT challenge, which has been developed by Electronics and Computer Science’s new Human Performance Design Lab, Sport and Wellbeing, the Faculty of Medicine, Students’ Union and Vice Chancellor’s office, proposes to increase mobility and activity options on campus. The initiative is also planned for trials later this spring with both Imperial College and schools across the region.

Following a successful trial in October last year, the 12-week challenge starts from 5 February for teams to sign up and 18 February for the trial to start. Teams of five to eight people can sign up to a web-based challenge site, where the goal is simply to increase minutes of physical activity each week. Participants have weekly minute targets to increase physical activity and wellbeing, which can be as simple and as easy as taking the stairs instead of the lift or getting off at a further bus stop and walking a bit more into work. To make achieving those targets a little more fun, teams will easily be able to compete with each other over the weeks.

Teams can sign up now at https://gofit.soton.ac.uk/

Professor mc schraefel from Electronics and Computer Science, who designed GofIT based on MIT’s successful 12 week team challenge, says: “There are sufficient studies now to show that more active, mobile knowledge workers like our students and staff perform better academically and professionally, and are ill less often. Therefore, helping our students and the whole University community get and stay more mobile is an important goal.”

Another aspect of the GoFit13 Challenge says Professor schraefel will be building knowledge about health practices. “Working with Sport and Wellbeing, we have experts contributing their knowledge to resources for participants. Being a place of science and learning, we’re also including “Experiments in a box” where participants can – if they wish – test for themselves how certain healthy activities affect wellbeing. The green box experiment, for instance, is about exploring the effect of eating more greens; the black box experiment is about exploring sleep, and there’s a white box experiment about the testing the effects of starchy carbs, like breads and pasta and potatoes. We’re all a little different, so each of these two-week self-experiments is designed to self-test how these practices affect our weight, our daily energy, our sense of well being when combined with our movement minutes.”

The GofIT challenge takes a dual physical and digital approach over a 24-month project with four phases, including capturing reusable health information about the area.

“We’re keen to build a health map of the area, so that people who find a great place to run that’s safe or super place to grab a healthy salad will be able to share these resources,” adds Professor schraefel.

The final phase will look to develop physical fit stations on campus and integration of digital and physical infrastructure. Professor schraefel says:“Imagine being at a pull up station on campus and simply by bringing up the GoFIT app, you’ll see how many pull ups were last done at the station, what the daily record is, how often your team has been there, and of course, how many minutes you’ve spent moving there.”

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