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Health initiatives like the University of Alberta’s UWalk could help boost the local economy

Click to listen to the U of A's Dr. Kerry Mummery discuss the UWalk program

Jan 2, 2014

by Jim Kerr

It’s not uncommon for a government to back an initiative that encourages people to get active, or one that helps boost the economy – but what about one that does both?

The province is stepping up to fund UWalk, a University of Alberta program that encourages people to track their physical activity using a website, app or pedometer, set goals and complete challenges. The idea is based off of Australia’s 10,000 Steps program, which was also overseen by the Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation’s dean, Dr. Kerry Mummery.

So, what does that do for the economy?

Studies in places like Portland, Oregon, and London, England, have shown that pedestrians and cyclists can actually end up outspending their road-dwelling counterparts over the course of a month. Researchers say non-drivers make more frequent trips to places like restaurants, bars and convenience stores, and can be more easily swayed by the impulse buy because they’re not flying by at 60 km/hr. On average, London’s transportation department says pedestrians outspend motorists by almost $250 more per month.

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Perhaps it’s time to invest in some snowshoes? Until then, click above to listen to an interview with Dr. Mummery and learn all about UWalk.

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