Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, our global health has been on a steady decline. Since 1975, obesity levels have more than tripled
while rates of anxiety and depression have skyrocketed. At its current trajectory, the WHO predicts that mental illness could cost the world economy a whopping $16 trillion
Indeed, our health is in a state of serious concern. To make matters worse, COVID has only exacerbated this problem. Beyond the direct impact of the virus on our long-term health, staying indoors and self-isolating has had significant consequences for our mental well-being. Quarantined indoors and forced to self-isolate, experts say psychological damages from the social and emotional turmoil of COVID could last a generation
But one silver lining has emerged. With gyms closed down and social distancing guidelines enforced, people began to walk and run outside as a way to get their exercise and get out of their homes.
Across the world, people have rediscovered the joy of walking. Strava reported that walkers logged over 668 million miles in 2021
, a record for the platform, and walking/running apps like Go Jauntly, Nike Run Club, and MapMyWalk have seen double-digit growth in recent years. Walking has even become trendy — the #hotgirlwalk hashtag on TikTok, which encourages users to walk outside for around 4 miles every day, has over 80 million views on TikTok.
All this is great news for public health. Studies have found that walking has outsized health benefits, including stimulating circulation, lowering blood glucose, strengthening immunity, and helping sleep quality. In fact, scientists have found that walking 2.5 hours a week — or just 21 minutes a day — can reduce the risk of heart disease by 30%
. For those struggling with mental health, a quick stroll around the neighbourhood has been linked to reduced stress, lower anxiety, and lessened fatigue, all while improving cognitive function and boosting creativity.
The best part? Unlike exclusive fitness studios or expensive home gym equipment, walking is free and accessible to most able-bodied individuals. A walk around the block tends to be far more realistic and achievable for the vast majority of people, especially for newer exercisers.
Even city governments can see the potential benefits of a happy and healthy population. Taking after Copenhagen, one of the most walkable cities in the world, cities from Paris to Portland are starting to implement the concept of the 15-minute city
(which prioritizes pedestrians over cars and structures neighbourhoods so that residents can walk nearly anywhere they need in under 15 minutes).
So why isn’t everyone walking? Despite the fact that walking is free and accessible to all, statistics point out a large majority of people don’t exercise enough. Despite all our best intentions, we’re only human — in the digital age, distractions and emails and TV shows often get the best of us, and instead of taking a stroll outside, we stay indoors and stare at our screens.
Even with the burgeoning industry of newfangled fitness tech, from wearables like the Apple Watch to connected gym equipment like Peloton, we’re still not getting enough movement throughout our days. So, how do you solve for the human element of fitness?
Say hello to the nascent move-to-earn industry.
For many people, summoning up the drive to even get out the door can be a monumental task. Nike Run Club and Strava have helped by offering motivation and proof of workout, but taking it a step further, a new class of startups are looking to pay you to exercise.
STEPN’s mission is to help millions lead a healthier lifestyle, connect them to web3 and help combat climate change. Users buy an NFT sneaker and then walk, run, or jog outdoors to earn tokens. They can then swap their earnings to an external account, or reinvest it in the ecosystem to upgrade their earning capacities. Read here on how STEPN is bringing the web3 revolution to fitness
Since launching in December 2021, STEPN has grown at an exponential pace, from just 1,500 daily active users in January 2022 to touching 100,000 . Drawn by its healthy incentives — dedicated users can earn an income of hundreds of dollars a day — STEPN has amassed a loyal following and an enthusiastic fitness community.
Most promisingly, users are trading fitness transformation stories that are off the charts. Testimonials have flooded the project’s Discord, with users saying that they haven’t run in a decade, but — thanks to the addictiveness of STEPN’s interface — have actually developed a daily running habit.
Infact, the entire segment of incentivizing fitness is picking up momentum. For example, WHOOP, a billion-dollar wearables company, actually pays its employees
to get quality sleep. On the government side, Singapore partnered with Apple Watch in 2020 to reward its citizens for staying healthy
Riding this wave, STEPN is poised to take off and is dedicated to building a robust platform that will encourage millions to improve their health and develop a daily exercise routine. It has the potential to impact a massive population while introducing a whole market of runners to the web3 world.
Currently, STEPN is already helping thousands improve their lives by making simple changes to their lifestyle — as simple as taking a walk around the block. In the future, STEPN even has plans to partner with universities to double down on improving users’ health with science-backed research and studies.
This is only the start. With global health in a more concerning state than ever, STEPN looks to be a crucial piece of the puzzle, helping improve the collective well-being of our global population one walker at a time. Stay tuned.