Step Count Blog Logo Blog

Help us investigate the impact of the Step Count Challenge

Meet Sam, a PhD student from the University of St Andrews, who needs your help to investigate the impact that taking part in the Step Count Challenge has on health and wellbeing.

Published: 08/10/2021

Regular physical activity is vitally important to our health. It reduces the risk of cancers, stroke and cardiovascular diseases, as well as having numerous mental health benefits such as helping with managing depression, anxiety and stress levels. This is something you probably already knew, and may even be the reason you participate in the Step Count Challenge - but do you know how the Step Count Challenge impacts your fitness and wellbeing?

In case you’ve forgotten, or are new to the Step Count Challenge… I’m Sam, and I’m investigating the health and wellbeing impact of Step Count Challenge participation as part of my PhD at the University of St Andrews. Supervised by Professor Gozde Ozakinci (Health Psychology at University of Stirling), Dr James Ainge (Psychology & Neuroscience at University of St Andrews) and Dr Andrew Williams (Medicine at University of St Andrews), we as a team have been working closely with Paths for All at every step to ensure this research is smooth and easy for you!

You may have participated in our research earlier this year during the spring 2021 Step Count Challenge. In that project, we asked you to complete mental wellbeing surveys and a short physical fitness test at various stages. Whilst full analysis is still ongoing, we’re delighted to be able to tell you that our initial preliminary investigations look positive, with both physical fitness and mental wellbeing improving by the end of the Step Count Challenge. This means that, as expected, participating in this event is having a positive impact on physical fitness and mental wellbeing!

As part of the ongoing research process though, we need to check whether these findings are reliable. For example, is it Step Count Challenge participation that improves fitness and wellbeing or is it because we took those measurements as the weather improved in early summer?

To address this question, we are once again asking for your help. We would like to do the study that you helped us conduct in springtime again but this time during the upcoming autumn challenge. Does the Step Count Challenge help to improve fitness and wellbeing even when it is getting colder and darker?

It doesn’t matter if you didn’t participate in the spring challenge, as everyone is eligible to participate in this research project, just so long as you’re over 18 and give your informed consent. We’d appreciate as many of you participating as possible, and we’d love to get participants from all over Scotland. It doesn’t matter how many steps you’re doing either!

You can opt in to take part in Sam's research through your dashboard page, after signing up to take part in the autumn Step Count Challenge. To register your team of five, go to