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New research reveals hidden danger of lockdown, London hit hardest

by LLB staff reporter
19th Nov 20 9:31 am

Almost half the UK population is walking less than before the outbreak of COVID-19, according to new research released today by POMMINE – the Swedish startup tackling health and sustainability issues. Conducted by YouGov, the research provides insight on a decrease in walking across the UK, as well as walking ambitions, habits, and motivation.  

The research is being released to mark the launch of 10 Steps to Mars, an app created by POMMINE to make walking more enjoyable and rewarding. 

Movement in crisis

According to POMMINE’s research, 40% of 2,000 respondents from across the UK are currently walking less than before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s a potentially deadly side effect of lockdown cycles, and directly linked to our more sedentary lifestyles as people increasingly work from home. 

Particularly affected were respondents living in London, with almost half of those surveyed walking less. Other groups badly affected are those between the age 18-24 and students, with 53% and 62% from respective groups claiming they now walk less. This is particularly resonant given the emerging evidence of COVID-19’s impact on mental health, with 47% of survey respondents flagging their awareness of walking’s mental health benefits.

Walking ambitions

However, respondents were bullish in their ambition. Two-thirds would like to aim for between 5,000 – 15,000 steps a day, in line with the fabled 10,000 steps recommended by public health organisations. This is an encouraging sign, but what is stopping people from achieving these goals?

Many of those surveyed felt there were mitigating factors preventing them from walking more at present. Of those surveyed, 25% lack the motivation for physical exercise, despite a wide acknowledgement by 58% that the physical benefits encourage them to get out. Bad weather was cited as the most common reason for not achieving step goals (35%), whilst lack of time in the week (18%) and working from home (16%) were also cited. 

Why this is important

Today, 50% of car distances in European cities are less than 4km and are the number one cause of air pollution in cities. The annual economic cost of premature deaths from air pollution across the countries of the WHO European Region stands at $1.431 trillion. This is not sustainable, and is the core reason that POMMINE created 10 Steps to Mars, an app that encourages people to rethink the way they move around and inspire a change in behaviour.

Within the app users are given their own plot of land to design their own virtual forest, with steps made in the real world earning them the opportunity to plant virtual trees. The app combines this attractive design and gamification with access to a global community. Users are able to send walkers from around the world encouragement every time they open the app. The team at POMMINE hope that by combining these three elements it will trigger healthier walking habits on a large scale. 

POMMINE has also partnered with tree planting charity Trees for the Future. For every 100 coins that users spend in the app, the team guarantees at least one tree will be planted by the charity.  So, not only are users able to collaborate together to encourage better walking habits, they can also have a direct impact on making the world a better place in the process. 

Elodie Swanberg, CEO and co-founder, POMMINE said, “We believe in empowering people with meaningful and fun digital solutions to create a sustainable future for all. The purpose of POMMINE is to inspire a behaviour change in people. Making them rethink how they move around, how to be more sustainable, but also how they think about the future. 10 Steps to Mars is our first project and we look forward to announcing more in the future.”

Niklas Swanberg, CTO and co-founder, POMMINE added, “We wanted to create an app that would encourage people to walk more, reduce carbon emissions, and help tackle climate change. 10 Steps to Mars has launched to tackle all three. We’re really excited about creating something that people will enjoy using, benefits their health, and helps plant trees.”

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