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Bright spots, physical activity investments that work: National Steps Challenge, Singapore: a nationwide mHealth physical activity programme
  1. Jiali Yao1,
  2. Chuen Seng Tan1,
  3. Cynthia Chen1,
  4. Jeremy Tan2,
  5. Nicole Lim2,
  6. Falk Müller-Riemenschneider1
  1. 1 Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  2. 2 Policy, Research and Surveillance Division, Health Promotion Board, Singapore
  1. Correspondence to Dr Falk Müller-Riemenschneider, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, Singapore 119077, Singapore; ephmf{at}

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Programme card


  • Singapore, national coverage.

Target population

  • The entire adult population of Singapore (citizens and foreigners).

What modes/types/domains of physical activity (PA) does the programme promote?

  • National Steps Challenge (NSC) encourages active lifestyles, and primarily promotes stepping activities, such as walking and running, as well as other moderate-to-vigorous PA.

Which of the seven best investments the programme addresses?

  • Community-wide programmes.

  • Public education on PA.

What sectors does it involve?

  • NSC is a nationwide public health effort led by a governmental organisation, embracing partnerships with diverse organisations and industries in academia, technology, sports and recreation services and retails.

Estimated programme reach:

  • The first four NSC seasons reached 1.3 million different participants—about 26% of the Singapore population aged 17 years and above (5.0 million as of June 20198).

What is special about this programme?

  • With one challenge season every year, NSC is a scaled-up PA promotion programme that uses wearables and smartphone applications. It leverages behaviour insights from both scientific evidence and local health promotion practices, and focuses on one behaviour at a time. NSC also shares key resources with other health promotion programmes, which encourages participants to monitor PA and remain active even during breaks between NSC challenge periods. Various subchallenges are offered regularly to provide participants more fun ways to stay active individually and in groups, such as monthly thematic challenges, community and corporate challenges.

Key contacts:

  • Nicole Lim (

  • Falk Müller-Riemenschneider (

Programme …

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  • Contributors JY and FMR developed the manuscript. All authors reviewed the manuscript and provided critical inputs.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Health Promotion Board, Singapore, and the National University Health System, Singapore.

  • Competing interests FMR and CST received funding from the Health Promotion Board, Singapore. NL and JT are employed by the Health Promotion Board, Singapore.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.