Beat the Street Northampton helps 54% of inactive adults to become active and 38% of less-active children to become active, according to a new report into the game’s impact
“Got me out of the house on days when I would not leave otherwise – THANK YOU!!! It has been amazing to be part of the programme, thank you for this opportunity. Beat the street has given us additional motivation to do things outside and it has been immense fun. We have all discovered a competitive streak in us and it’s been a blessing especially following covid19.” — Female, aged 40-49
The six-week initiative that turned Northampton into a giant physical activity game in 2021 has helped thousands of people of all ages to get more active.
The free game took place in September through to November and inspired people of all ages and abilities to make positive lifestyle changes. Using special sensors called Beat Boxes attached to lampposts around the town, the initiative rewarded school, workplace and community teams with prizes for walking, cycling and rolling within the game area.
A total of 20,699 people (10% of the population) took part in Beat the Street Northampton, clocking up 113,510 active travel miles during the game. Sixty-one primary schools took part, as well as 31 community teams including workplaces, childcare teams, Scout groups, running groups and the Cynthia Spencer Hospice who benefitted from a £500 donation thanks to the town’s efforts.
Beat the Street Northampton set out to increase physical activity levels across the population, encourage healthier lifestyles and address health inequalities, worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic. The game also aimed to promote active travel and improve mental wellbeing amongst participants.
To measure the impact of the game, participants were invited to answer questions on their levels of physical activity before and after the game. A total of 13,537 people provided responses at the start of the game, providing audience insight into who was taking part, their age, gender, ethnicity and postcodes.
After the game, the data shows that 54% of inactive adults became active and 38% of less active children became active. Physical inactivity in adults decreased by 4% and the proportion of adults achieving 150 minutes of exercise per week increased by 8%.
In Northampton, partners came together to help ensure the programme was successful in achieving its aims. Northamptonshire Sport, Trilogy Leisure, Northamptonshire Public Health and West Northamptonshire Council Community Safety came together in regular meetings with the Intelligent Health team to provide local knowledge and insight.
The behaviour change for women was even greater. The proportion reporting being inactive decreased from 23% to 18% and there was a 9% increase in the proportion achieving 150+ minutes of activity per week.
Following Beat the Street, adult wellbeing improved, particularly for those who were inactive before the game. The proportion reporting high or very high feelings of life satisfaction increased by 11% and the proportion reporting low or very low feeling of anxiety increased by 8%. This backs up evidence that shows being more physically active can help to improve mental health and wellbeing.
In addition to the data, there was also feedback from participants, such as “Helped me to go for longer walks after school and at the weekend. It helped because I saw other children out doing the same as me. It also helped my Nanna go walking because I gave her a card so she walked her dog more. I liked the map as well, it helped read and know more streets where I live.” — Boy, aged 11 and under.
“Beat the Street helped me get more active and made me feel happy” — Girl, aged 12 to 18
Councillor Adam Brown, Deputy Leader of West Northants Council and Portfolio Holder for Housing, Culture & Leisure, said: “This report shows that not only did the Beat the Street game help encourage people to get more active, but that it also had an impact on congestion, pollution, mental health and even skills such as road safety and map-reading.”
Beat the Street Northampton is brought to you by West Northamptonshire Council, Public Health Northamptonshire and Northamptonshire Sport with funding from the National Lottery via Sport England. It is delivered by Intelligent Health.
A six-month follow up survey will be sent out to players in March 2022, which will look at long-term behaviour change.