Sheffield activity game helped thousands of people to develop healthier habits

A fitness challenge which took place in Sheffield this summer has led to a long term increase in participants’ activity levels and helped to tackle health inequalities – a new report shows.

Thursday, 25th November 2021, 6:00 am
Beat The Atreet community event at U-Mix, Highfields, Sheffield.

Beat the Street, a fitness challenge held in Sheffield over six weeks this summer, saw teams across the city compete to collect points by getting active.

Between June 16 and July 28 this year, more than 60,000 Sheffielders walked, ran, cycled, scooted or rolled across the city, tapping Beat Boxes as they went to gain points.

More important than the points, however, was the increase in activity levels of those who took part in the challenge, and it seems that for many this was a permanent change.

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Players racked up points by travelling to Beat Boxes around the city.

A recent report into the impact of the game looked at player responses to see whether Beat the Street helped them develop healthy long-term habits. The report, based on over 30,000 responses, found that 70% of less active adults and 67% of less active children have become more active since participating.

A boy who took part in Beat the Street said: “It made me want to walk or cycle to and from school instead of wanting to go in the car like I normally do and I found out I really enjoyed it”.

In total 60,187 Sheffielders took part, racking up a monumental 452,870 miles between them – almost twice the distance from Earth to the Moon.

Anna Lowe from Move More which commissioned Beat the Street Sheffield, said: “Reaching 11% of the local population through the game is phenomenal and as well as increasing levels of physical activity, the game also helped to connect several organisations that ended up working together to tackle issues such as social isolation and inactivity.

Refugee footballers in Sheffield got involved with Beat The Street

"We’re looking forward to building on all of the results of the Beat the Street game by connecting and supporting physical activity developments across the city.

"We would like it to be as easy as possible for everybody in Sheffield to experience the benefits of active living. It was a brilliant opportunity for us to deliver a Beat the Street game, to start conversations about physical activity and think about ways of being active that they might not have done before.”

Over 300 teams were involved in Beat the Street Sheffield made up of charities, running clubs, schools, work groups and groups of friends. Marcliff Primary formed a huge team of 771 players and gained 457,730 points, more than any other team.

Move More and Sheffield City Council brought Beat the Street to Sheffield, and it was delivered by Intelligent Health with funding from the National Lottery, Sport England and local partners.

Pupils from the Oasis Academy in Attercliffe take part in the opening event of Beat the Street

Beat the Street engagement coordinator Alasdair Menmuir added: “It gives me great pleasure to see and hear of the impact we had on the communities we worked with in Sheffield around physical activity, health inequalities, and the multiple barriers that communities face.”

Move More is the physical activity strategy for Sheffield, which aims to make residents feel happier, healthier, and more connected. It is an umbrella partnership which brings together local groups and individuals with a shared vision - to highlight the importance of physical activity and empower local projects and communities to create change.

Each Year Move More champion and deliver a different campaign aimed at engaging as many people as possible in physical activity. Beat the Street was the campaign for Move More Month in June 2021.

Beat the Street was one of several initiatives implemented with the intention of tackling health inequalities across Sheffield and reduce social isolation. One group of women with underlying health conditions from a more deprived area of the city were introduced to Beat the Street as a social prescription.

One of the women who took part said: “I didn’t know I can get all this exercise. When you go out and you feel happy and safe, mentally and physically it is really good.”

Tanya Basharat, CEO of Shipshape, a Sheffield community hub which worked alongside Move More, said: “We got them signed up with a card and they actually got really excited because they had something that they could take away, they didn’t have to wait for a session on a Tuesday with Shipshape.

"They were able to take that back to their families, take their grandkids. It created something more than just going tap tap at a Beat the Street box. It actually connected communities together.”

Natalie Grinvalds, Intelligent Health, said: “What beat the street did was help to encourage people to change their behaviour, to become more active or use active travel – walking running, cycling, because they have motivation of the game.”

One family who took part in the challenge said: “I thought Beat the Street was fantastic at getting us out as a family. Our son is autistic and it's always a bit of a struggle to get him out for a walk, but he loved swiping his card and hearing the funny noises, so I think a great idea. We made a more conscious effort as a family to take more time for walking and took the time before and after school.”