Introduction: There is little evidence supporting sustainability of public health interventions based upon the 10,000 steps concept conducted in "real-world" settings. This study investigated the effectiveness of the 10,000 Steps Walking Challenge, initiated in conjunction with the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Australia, in March 2006.
Methods: This study analyzed characteristics of registrants (n = 1836), pedometer counts logged onto a Web site between February 2006 and February 2007 (n = 18,032 entries by 914 participants), and two surveys of participants in June 2006 (n = 128) and December 2006 (n = 62).
Results: The program reached its target population of females aged 30-49 yr (40.2% of participants), a group known to have low activity levels, which also has potential to influence the behavior of family, friends, and workmates. Compliance was poor; only 49.8% of registrants ever logged steps, and of these, only 45.5% continued beyond the period of the challenge and 16.6% for more than 1 month. Mean (9527 ± 297, 95% confidence interval) and median (9638) recorded steps per day came close to the target of 10,000 steps; 80.1% of participants reached 10,000 steps at least once and 21.9% did so every time they logged steps. For survey respondents who provided complete data (n = 53), the mean estimated daily steps increased significantly (P < 0.001) from 6401 ± 884 steps before the program to 9921 ± 1039 steps at the first survey and then fell back significantly (P = 0.026) to 8727 ± 1284 steps at the second survey but remained significantly higher than the baseline figure (P < 0.001).
Conclusion: The program had immediate effectiveness and was sustainable for a small proportion of participants, but effectiveness was limited by problems with long-term motivation and compliance/adherence.