tips & tricks

How to set a goal for your next activity or step challenge

blog author
Sep 30, 2020

When creating an activity challenge, it’s important that you take the time to set an appropriate goal. You want it to be challenging for your participants, but not so difficult that it discourages them.

A good challenge goal goes a long way. It encourages users to incorporate more activity into their day and helps to maintain engagement throughout your program. On the other hand, a poorly chosen challenge goal can cause users to lose interest in the challenge, which can increase participant drop-off and decrease engagement.

Whether it’s your first step challenge, or your 100th challenge, you can follow along with our best practices below.

Three factors to consider when creating a fitness challenge goal

Take the following factors into account when creating an activity challenge goal:

  1. Average daily activity of your participants
  2. Challenge mode
  3. Duration of the challenge

Use our benchmarks as a guide for your first activity challenge.

For your first challenge, you’ll need to estimate your participants’ average daily activity. As you may not have historical activity data to reference, you can use the ranges below. These represent a common range of average daily activity among users on our platform.

daily average activity spreadsheet

Your average daily activity estimates will be used to set your challenge goal. Each MoveSpring challenge mode is scored differently. Some have a daily goal, while others are based off of a cumulative goal to reach by the challenge end. Try our suggested goals by challenge mode.

suggested challenge goal spreadsheet

Or, use prior challenge data to calculate your new goal.

When you’ve hosted at least one activity challenge, you can reference your past participant data to calculate your new goal. There are a few ways you can do this using the MoveSpring platform.

1. Dashboard quick view

Use the dashboard in the MoveSpring Admin Center to view graphs of your participants’ overall progress and activity levels. Filter the date range of the Step Ranges and Activity Distribution Chart to your most recent challenge dates.

  • Reference the Step Ranges **pie chart**. Which activity range shows the largest percentage?
  • Then, reference the Activity Distribution bar chart to determine where the majority of users fall within that pie chart range. This helps you identify outliers and choose a number that works for the largest volume of participants.

A major benefit to this method is the ability to quickly find your group’s daily activity without having to pull a report. Additionally, these charts automatically filter out any users who didn’t sync, or reported zero activity during the selected date range.

activity and step range graphs

2. Pull a report

For a more detailed approach, utilize the Reporting tab in the MoveSpring Admin Center, and follow the steps below.

  • Pull a User Report for the date range of your most recent challenge.
  • Delete any users who have zero or no data populating in the total activity columns.
  • Calculate the total number of users remaining in the report to get an Active User CountNote: be sure you’ve omitted any users that scored zero data.
  • Locate the Total StepsTotal Minutes or Total Distance column. Calculate the Activity Grand Total of all users’ total steps, minutes or distance.
  • Divide the Activity Grand Total by the number of days in the challenge (or date range you filtered by). This will calculate the Group Daily Activity Average.
  • Divide this number by the Active User Count to see the daily activity average for an individual participant.

To assess outliers, sort the Average Steps, Minutes or Distance column in descending order. This will show you individual daily activity averages from high-to-low. If notice many outliers that are either highly active or inactive, consider making two different challenges that can better cater to each group.

view of a user report spreadsheet

Pro Tips

  • Use the date range of your most recent challenge, as users consistently sync their data during a challenge period.
  • If you adjust your goal before the challenge starts, be sure your communications and instructions reflect your latest challenge goal.

Setting goals by challenge type

Now you know how to determine your participants’ average activity level, let’s break down how to use that information to calculate the best challenge goal for each type of MoveSpring activity challenge.

Streak Challenge

With the Streak mode, participants track the number of consecutive days they meet a daily step or active minutes goal. You, the admin, will choose the daily goal during challenge setup. Reference the daily activity averages you calculated to determine an achievable daily goal. Best practice tip: start low and increase over time!

As you gather more data with each step challenge, you can explore segmenting challenges to accommodate a group with a wide range of activity levels.


Reference the Activity Distribution Chart in the MoveSpring Admin Center dashboard. In the scenario below, we’d suggest a 30 active minutes/day goal.

active minute activity distribution graph

Stick to It! Challenge

With our Stick to It! challenge mode, you set a daily steps or active minutes goal. Then, you decide how many times each participant needs to meet this goal over the course of the challenge. As your participants don’t need to hit this goal everyday, you can set the daily steps or minutes goal higher than you would in a Streak challenge.

Further adjust the difficulty by increasing or decreasing the number of times the participant has to meet this daily goal throughout the course of the challenge. Reaching 10,000 steps/day 10 times over the course of a 20-day challenge is a lot easier than hitting it 15 times over the course of a 20-day challenge.

  1. Average daily activity of your participants

Reference the Step Range and Activity Distribution charts in the MoveSpring Admin Center. In the example scenario below, we’d suggest an 8,000 steps/day goal, achieved for at least 75% of the total days in the challenge.

activity distribution and step range graphs

Target Challenge

Set an individual total steps or active minutes goal to be achieved over the duration of the challenge. Participants will pace themselves to make sure they can reach the cumulative target goal before the end of the challenge. As this is a cumulative goal, it requires an additional calculation step.


Daily steps or active minutes average x Total days in challenge = Target goal


Reference the same Step Range and Activity Distribution Charts in the MoveSpring Admin Center (shown above). In the example scenario above, we’d use a 7,000 steps/day average to calculate our goal. If the challenge is 21 days, then the Target goal would be 147,000 total steps**:**

7,000 daily step average x 21 days in challenge = 147,000 total steps

Journey Challenge

In the MoveSpring Journey challenge, participants compete in a virtual, long distance race. Set a total distance goal for participants to reach by challenge end. As participants move in real life, they progress through a virtual map in the app. Along the way, they’ll unlock new map scenes and milestones. Similar to Target, this is a cumulative goal, and requires an additional calculation step.


Daily distance average x Total days in challenge = Journey distance goal


Reference the Activity Distribution Chart in the MoveSpring Admin Center. In the scenario below, we’d use a 3.5 miles/day average to calculate our goal. If the challenge is 14 days, then the Journey goal would be 49 total miles.

3.5 Daily Distance Average x 14 days in challenge = 49 total miles

total distance activity distribution graph

Note: Journey and Group Journey are distance-based challenge modes. You also have the option to turn off Journey milestones.

Group Challenges

Our Group Journey and Group Target challenges allow you to set a collective goal for all users to achieve together. This challenge type requires you to calculate both the daily activity average and an estimated participant count. Our group challenges engage the entire office, and get everyone working together towards a common goal.


Daily activity average x Estimated total participants x Total days in challenge = Group challenge goal

How to estimate your total participants

How many users do you anticipate participating in this challenge?

  • If this is your first challenge, estimate that 40% of the people you invite will ultimately participate in the challenge. If you find that many users are signing up, that's great! You can always adjust your goal based on the final participant numbers a day or two before the challenge starts.
  • If you’ve run a challenge before, check out the Challenges tab in the MoveSpring Admin Center. What is the average number of participants you see across all the challenges you've run? You can also run Challenge Reports to average out an exact participant count.

Pro tip

We suggest using the lower end of your average participation numbers. It’s easy to increase your goal once you know how many people have joined.

view of challenges tab from movespring admin center

Setting an activity challenge goal is a science and an art.

As you host more challenges, you’ll hit your stride in setting the best goals for your group! The MoveSpring Customer Success and Support teams are a great resource for any goal setting questions, suggestions, and advice. We’re always happy to help!

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