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Meet the researcher: Sam

During this year's spring Step Count Challenge, we're partnering with our friends at the University of St Andrews to investigate the impact the challenge has on people's health and wellbeing. Meet Sam, a PhD student at the University, who will be carrying out the research.

Published: 07/04/2021

The importance of physical activity on our health and wellbeing cannot be understated. Physically speaking, regular engagement in physical activity can result in reduced risk of cancers, diabetes, strokes and cardiovascular diseases, among others. But the potential benefits don’t stop there, with depression, anxiety and stress all seen to be alleviated following physical activity, therefore improving mental health and psychological wellbeing. Additionally, frequent physical activity can improve our cognitive health - enhancing memory, attention and learning capabilities.

This potential health enhancement is of great interest as we need to learn how to best achieve the positive effects it can have, so to try and improve our quality of life and our health. To help do this, we’re studying the impact of participation in the Step Count Challenge, and whether there is a relationship between step counts and the level of benefits we experience.

For this we need your help. To get the best results possible, we would like to have the largest sample possible, with participants from all over Scotland, regardless of how much or how little activity they do. The greater range of participants we can get, the better we can answer the question. We plan to run multiple pieces of research over the coming Step Count Challenges, each investigating elements of health and wellbeing. Some of these will be questionnaire-based, some will be small activities and tests and some will be repeated a few times throughout the challenges. We’ll try and make everything as simple, quick and easy as we can for you, and of course though greatly appreciated, participation is completely voluntary.

We’ll be giving you a short wellbeing questionnaire fortnightly and asking you to perform a simple two-minute fitness test where we will ask you to march on the spot on three occasions over the 8 weeks. If you agree to participate, these tasks will appear on your Step Count Challenge Dashboard whenever the time is right, so you won’t need to remember any dates, you’ll just receive reminders whenever it’s time to do a task. Each task is open for at least a week, and should take a maximum of five minutes to complete, so hopefully won’t take up too much of your time, but whenever you can spare the time, we’d greatly appreciate it. We’ll be collecting data from the week before the challenge begins (to get an idea of a pre-challenge level) all the way through to the final week of the challenge in June. To get involved simply press the ‘Yes, Count me in!’ button on the homepage when you log in to your Step Count Challenge profile.

Who are ‘we’? Well, we’re a small team of researchers from the University of St Andrews, working in collaboration with Paths for All to investigate the impact of the Step Count Challenge. The group consists of a PhD student (Sam), and two researchers, from the School of Medicine (Gozde Ozakinci) and the School of Psychology and Neuroscience (Jamie Ainge). Each of us enjoy regular physical activity ourselves, with Gozde and Jamie both being avid joggers (albeit slow!) and Sam a keen golfer (making St Andrews an absolute dream!). It’s this personal experience and enjoyment that drives our desire to complete this research, learning how we can help ourselves as well as you.