08 Sep Media Release – Billion Steps Challenge 2021
As COVID-19 hibernation ends it is time to step out into a world of fitness.
COVID-19 lockdown has been hard for most communities across the world. For the transplant community it has been doubly hard with transplant recipients recognised as one of the vulnerable groups facing additional complications from COVID-19.
The World Transplant Games Federation (WTGF) is committed to helping the transplant community regain their fitness after this long ‘COVID-19 hibernation’. It today announced the return of its highly successful “Billion Steps Challenge” to encourage health and fitness amongst transplant recipients all over the world.
The Fit for Life! Billion Steps Challenge, proudly supported by Novartis, is a community-based exercise program designed to help recipients and the extended community stay active and celebrate a life where physical activity and movement is the ‘new’ normal.
WTGF President, Chris Thomas, said “Getting active safely following the last 18 months of the COVID-19 Pandemic is important for both physical and mental wellbeing.”
“For many, COVID-19 has created great amounts of stress, fear and anxiety. Regular exercise benefits both the body and mind. Exercise has the ability to improve mental health, reduce the risk of depression, cognitive decline and improve overall feelings of wellbeing,” Mr Thomas said.
“At times like this, focussing on ourselves, both physically and emotionally is crucial. Exercise is really the best way to beat the blues and maintain a positive outlook. We are pleased to be contributing to the welfare of recipients across the world at this difficult time.”
Several research studies have shown that some transplant recipients have a ‘fear of movement’ following transplantation, worried that they might overdo exercise and damage their transplanted organ. The first Billion Steps challenge held in 2017 saw participants increase their daily step count by an average of 50% throughout the challenge. The 2020 Billion Steps Challenge, which had 72 countries participate, saw this percentage grow even more, with almost everyone increasing their daily steps by a significant amount.
Mr Thomas continued: “We can demonstrate that, with planning, advice and common sense, transplant recipients can get back into exercise and sport. There really are no boundaries.
“Ideally this commitment should be shared by everyone living with a recipient. It is why we encourage the whole transplant and donor communities to be involved. Fitness is for everyone.” The Billion Steps Challenge begins on September 20th and concludes in late November.
This year we are aiming for 2 Billion Steps. The challenge is designed as a fun, community-centered interactive challenge where teams of between 2 and 10 people register online and sync their fitness trackers to record their daily steps. All steps count towards achieving our target of 2 Billion Steps.
The online Movespring platform also allows manual submission of steps for those who do not have a fitness tracker. Likewise all exercise types can be converted to steps. So if you prefer to go for a cycle, swim or perhaps participate in a fitness class, the easy conversion tools will allow you to convert these activities to steps.
The platform promotes healthy and fun competition between the teams, with various newsfeed and chat forums active, as well as regular messages of encouragement and updates on the leader board status. Weekly fun challenges will be set with WTGF branded goodies up for grabs. We will also be unlocking milestones along the way which will not only reveal exciting fitness prizes and interesting content, but TX the Transplant Teddy Bear will also be unlocked. With each milestone we reach as a community more Teddies will be unlocked and at the close of the challenge these will be distributed to children waiting for transplants around the world, as a message of hope and support.
There is no age limit and no experience is needed. The challenge is designed to motivate all to exercise within their means, starting with some simple goals, such as walking around the block and building towards more ambitious goals.
Whilst we celebrate what can be achieved post-transplant, we also remember the donors and aim to raise awareness for the need for organ donation. As such we invite everyone to join the challenge and celebrate those Powered by the Gift of Life and spread the message that organ donation saves lives.
The WTGF will be promoting ways to achieve daily steps targets both at home and outside, taking into account different social interaction rules around the globe. The Billion Steps Challenge demonstrates to recipients that there is more to the WTGF than the highly successful Summer and Winter Games.
To find out more about the Billion Steps Challenge or sign up to, please visit https://wtgf.org/billion-steps-challenge/
Kim Renyard – Executive Manager