A close up black-and-white photograph of someone lacing up their white walking or running shoe, which is resting on a wooden park bench, with trees and sunlight in the background.

Published on 15 May 2023

Step up to health

Are you looking to get fit this winter, boost your energy levels, and discover new places in your own backyard?

Sign up for the City of Onkaparinga’s new, free Six-Week Step Challenge and step up to a healthy lifestyle by simply packing a little more movement into each day and tracking your activity (via phone or smartwatch, for example).

Partnering with the 10,000 Steps program, Onkaparinga’s challenge, which takes place from Monday 29 May to Sunday 9 July, allows you to track your steps and activity, view step stats over time, connect with friends, and have the opportunity to win prizes directly from 10,000 Steps. But you don’t have to focus on walking.

It’s well known that simply by moving more each day—whether that’s via walking, active gardening, swimming, cycling, or other activities—you can lose weight, clear the mind, improve sleep, decrease anxiety and blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack.

The 10,000 Steps program can also promote family togetherness and activity, encourages you to make new social connections, and may encourage you to explore places across our city like McLaren Vale and our stunning coastline that you might not have otherwise discovered. To discover some of Onkaparinga's trails, visit council's website.

That’s why the City of Onkaparinga wants as many people as possible to sign up for the challenge, which is open to anyone—regardless of age, ability, or fitness. Activities such as competitive sport, horse riding, dancing and aerobics can also count towards your steps tally (check out this steps conversion chart for more info).

Registering is easy—just head to council’s 6 Week Step Challenge webpage and sign up for free. You’ll also find a range of programs to help you tackle the challenge and find a healthier you (see a list of ideas below).

The 10,000 Steps website and mobile app allows you to track your steps, offering integration with Fitbit, Garmin and Google Fit, and the app available on iOS (users can integrate with Apple Health) and Android devices.

The program is funded by Health and Wellbeing Queensland and Wellbeing SA and has been run by CQUniversity since 2001. Council will host a second Six-Week Step Challenge in October.

Why 10,000 steps?

As researchers in The Conversation note, the 10,000 steps concept was initially conceived as a marketing concept ahead of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, but it was revived in Australia in 2001 to encourage people to be more active.

The average Australian adult accumulates about 7400 steps each day, so an additional 3000-4000 steps through dedicated walking (see here for ideas, such as parking further away each day) will get you to the target, but as the researchers say, this may not be suitable for everyone.

“Setting a lower individual step goal is fine as long as you try to add about 3000 to 4000 steps to your day,” they write.

“It’s important to recognise that no public health guideline is entirely appropriate for every person; public health messages are aimed at the population at large.

That being said, we shouldn’t underestimate the power of a simple public health message: 10,000 steps is an easily remembered goal and you can readily measure and assess your progress.

“The most important thing is being as active as you can. Striving for 10,000 steps is just one way of doing this.”

If the numbers seem a little daunting—consider a standard walk from the car park to the supermarket might be 500 steps!

Other ways to get moving

The City of Onkaparinga offers a range of other programs and ideas, many of them free, to help get you moving and step up to the six-week challenge.

If you’re keen to explore your local area and/or meet new people while you walk, why not join a friendly local Heart Foundation Walking group in your area, a small guided walk of a local heritage place, or a Move It walk to discover a regional gem like the Happy Valley Reservoir?

If you’re looking to pick up the pace a bit (though walking is fine too!), the iconic weekly timed five-kilometre parkrun takes place at five locations across Onkaparinga every Saturday morning.

If you want to include the family in the fun, you could have an interactive mobile experience at Wilfred Taylor Reserve or Thalassa Park, or try your hand at a new sport such as Disc Golf.

And, if you need a break from racking up pure walking steps, why not take a free outdoor OUTFIT group fitness class, have a swim or a group fitness class at the Noarlunga Aquatic Centre, or join/start a local sporting team—for example at one of council’s four recreation centres or by searching this directory of our local sports and recreation clubs.