Sit less and move more: the first TU/e Walking Day is a fact

A walk during your lunch break or stretch exercises behind your computer; for one person it’s a routine, for the other a ‘no-go’. Eindhoven University of Technology organized a Walking Day to stimulate researchers, employees and students to exercise more during their working day. The initiative is part of a university wide vitality program.

A 30-minute walk with colleagues brings about special conversations and new contacts. This can be concluded from the TU/e Walking Day. About twenty employees with different jobs and ages took part in the walk. A duo from Green House Office acted as guides and told a small story at important spots and building on the campus. In between, there was time for conversation.

“We organized the walk during lunch to stimulate employees to make their working day more vital”, says Marieke van Beurden, program manager Human Vitality & Technology at TU/e. Within the project ‘TU/e most vital campus’ employees and students from different departments and services are working together to stimulate people on campus to be more active. All kinds of activities are being organized but also structural changes are being implemented.

During the Walking Day, a new campaign was launched, Gamebus. This is an app which is developed by TU/e researchers and students to stimulate healthy living. In the app people can upload their activities that work towards a healthy lifestyle. For example, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or eating fruit instead of a biscuit. For each activity the participants get points. The score will add to the total amount of the department they work at. This leads to a competition between the TU/e departments.

Co-developer Jens d’Hondt introduced the app to the participants of the Walking Day. For his graduation thesis Jens is focusing on the data behind the game. “I’m researching how we can motivate people to live a healthier lifestyle through the app”, he explains. He wants to achieve this by sending personal messages via email. “There are different types of people who each want to be approached and motivated in a different way.”

Besides the Walking Day event there’s also the Workwalk on campus, a track on campus you can book to have a walking meeting. It’s a 25-minute route which is indicated by blue circles on the ground. At the entrance of each department there’s a big circle that serves as meeting point. “It’s a simple concept and with this we try to lower the threshold for employees to be more active during working hours”, Ida Damen explains. She designed the Workwalk and is doing research into stimulating vitality among office employees.

“I conduct research into the possibilities to integrate exercising into work. The existing tools are mostly aimed at the lunch break where I look at exercising during working hours.” Damen says. The Workwalk is an example. There are numerous apps which support walking meetings, but according to Damen it’s important that people don’t watch their phones and have actual conversations with their colleagues. Hence the indicated route on campus. “That way the employees don’t have to think about the route to take but they can focus solely on the meeting and they know when they will return in the office again.”

Within the research program ‘Human Vitality & Technology’ they also take into account the long-term possibilities.  “More TU/e researchers form different disciplines are working on vitality. Also companies want to make their employees more vital. They look at things from a pre-emptive perspective instead of curing their employees when they’re already sick”, program manager Van Beurden explains. “We use our campus as living lab to get our employees and students more active, both physically as mentally. We can share this gained knowledge and expertise and collaborate with other campuses like ASML, the High Tech Campus and Brianport Industry Campus.

Source: Innovation Origins, Linda Bak