04/03/2016 09:05 EDT | Updated 04/04/2017 01:12 EDT

Study: Huge global exercise contest shows healthy potential

CHICAGO — A workplace exercise challenge using pedometers and social media in a global competition shows potential to improve health in a study involving almost 70,000 employees in 64 countries.

In the program, office teams compete against each other or with groups at companies in other countries to see who can take the most daily steps during a 100-day challenge. Workers post progress on a special social media website — for motivation and to encourage rival teams.

The study found workers on average increased their daily activity by 3,500 steps, exercised for almost one extra day per week, reduced sitting time by about 45 minutes daily, and lost about three pounds during the contests. The research was presented Sunday in Chicago at the American College of Cardiology's annual meeting.

Lindsey Tanner, The Associated Press