‘“This challenge has honestly changed my outlook on exercise.”

That’s Emily, an undergraduate at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia. She took on the challenge of stepping up her fitness over the course of two weeks. She is just one of the many brave students featured in our article.

You know the content is well written and researched, but have you wondered how these articles inspire students? Look no further. Our May 2015 “A bit more fit: The power of tracking your steps” article really resonated with our students.

The peer education approach

Students respect and are motivated by what their peers are doing. Rather than telling them what they should be doing from a professional (wagging finger) perspective, this article lets their peers show them what’s working.

How it works

Our project involved nine students—three from each of our student populations: US undergrads, Canadian undergrads, and US community college and graduate students. The students tracked their steps over two weeks. The first week they logged their habits unchanged; during the second week they stepped up their activity.

This wasn’t a matter of hitting the gym more often. Mostly, it was about integrating more steps in their day: taking the stairs, walking extra blocks, or getting off of the train a few stops early.

How did it make a difference in their lives?

Emily T., undergraduate at Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia

  • increased her activity by 2,200 steps in the second week

 “Every time after I worked out I felt refreshed and happier.” -Emily T.

Gregory M., part-time student at Harvard Extension School in Massachusetts

  • increased his mileage by 2 miles from week 1 to week 2

“Starting was the hardest part, but now I feel like I have the energy I need to be more active.” -Gregory M.

Usama Z., undergraduate at the University of the Pacific in California

  • increased his time spent being active by 6.5 hours a week.

“Keeping track of your steps really makes you feel you want to do a little extra to get to that next level. You feel stoked when you beat your personal best.” -Usama Z.

How did the student readers respond to this article?

In a survey of more than 13,000 students, 85 percent of students who read it told us that they learned something:

“I was surprised that one of the students who was sharing her story admitted that she would feel judged when going to the gym, but then cared less what others thought after she became physically active. This article motivated me to get fit over the summer as well as download an app on my phone that helps me keep track of the amount of steps I am taking in a day.” -Undergraduate, college withheld

“It was an eye opener and I think I’ll try the two week challenge to see how active I really am.” -Undergraduate, University of Delaware

“I downloaded the app Moves right after reading this article. I was so excited to try it and see how it encourages more activity.” -Undergraduate, Rowan University, New Jersey

“I loved the example of watching House of Cards while doing some simple exercises during certain times! The article was very motivating and proves that even a few exercise moves can be beneficial.” -Undergraduate, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York

“I can’t believe that a simple tracking tool increases exercise awareness and accountability so much.” -Undergraduate, college withheld

“After going back and re-reading every article again, this article really hit home with me. Lately, I have been feeling so down about myself. I hate exercising and have a gym membership but find that I’m not making it there as often as I should. This article made me realize how I can improve my day and my body with a little more exercise, such as walking a few extra blocks and tracking my steps.” -Undergraduate, Indiana University Southeast