Nearly 600 people signed up for the 6 week WV Gets Active programme, with a goal of building up their exercise, at a pace that suited them, to feel fitter and healthier.
Participants used a free phone app and, on average, increased their daily step count from under 5,000 to over 7,000 steps per day. Some moved from completing 30 minutes exercise a week, to 30 minutes each day, and the majority kept up their new regime when the programme ended.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "Even before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, activity levels in Wolverhampton were below the national average, with more than a third of the adult population of the city doing less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week.
"The pandemic, and in particular the various lockdowns, meant more time spent indoors, with limited opportunity or motivation to exercise and get active.
"WV Gets Active was a great way to encourage people to increase their activity levels and get more exercise.
"The programme also highlighted the fact that many of our residents underestimate their physical activity levels, as the digital nature of the programme showed that some were already active, even though they didn't think they were."
One participant said: "The WV Gets Active challenge helped me into a walking habit. Now I feel so much better and have more energy to try new things."
Another said: "I've managed to get more active and am more aware of how important physical activities are. It made me feel more happy and I even lost a bit of weight."
A third added: "Whilst I didn't hit the target every day, I managed to do a good amount of steps most days. Given that I was doing near to nothing when I started, this is a huge change for me."
The learning from WV Gets Active, which was delivered by the council and Active Black Country with funding provided by the Local Government Association, will be used to help develop future digital health interventions.
Michael Salmon, Head of Insight, Health and Wellbeing at Active Black Country, said: “WV Gets Active is a fantastic example of how Active Black Country are supporting partners to encourage their local communities to start the journey to increasing activity and to recognise the ways in which they are already active.
“We will continue to work with the City of Wolverhampton Council to encourage an active, healthier Black Country and upping your daily step count is the perfect way to get started.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of people already registered their interest in taking part in another pilot being held in Wolverhampton by the Government’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities within the Department of Health and Social Care and HeadUp Systems in a few months’ time which will reward healthy behaviours through a new app.
They will be given wrist worn devices and have access to an app which will generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count or eating more fruit and vegetables. In return, people who eat more healthily or exercise more will collect points which they will be able to cash in for rewards which could include shopping vouchers, cinema tickets, gym passes and more.
To be eligible to participate, you need to be a resident of Wolverhampton and be 18 or over. You can register your interest in taking part by signing up for free at Department of Health and Social Care today.