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The Long-Term Benefits of Pedometer Use

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Studies show that tracking daily steps with a pedometer leads to higher activity levels. A new report out of the U.K. suggests the practice can inspire people to take more steps for many years.

The report included data from two separate 12-month studies; one involved inactive adults aged 45–75, while the other featured older adults aged 60–75. In the first, participants were assigned to one of three 12-week pedometer-based interventions—consultation with a nurse, support by mail or no consultation. In the second, there was no mail support group.

Activity levels increased in the three intervention groups while remaining unchanged in the two control groups.

The researchers followed up 3 years later with the 45–75 group and 4 years later with the 60–75 group. Participants received an accelerometer to wear all day for 7 days and were instructed to make no changes to normal activity levels. They also completed an activity diary.

The nurse- and mail-supported groups were still more active than they had been at baseline, logging about 30 more minutes of activity per week than the control groups.

Study authors concluded that an easily accessible program can inspire people to move more:

“Here we have new evidence that shows short, simple advice about regularly using a pedometer, whether that means getting leaflets through the post or speaking to a nurse, can increase physical activity 3 to 4 years later,” said Christina Victor, PhD, study author and vice dean of research at Brunel University in London.

The study is available in PLOS Medicine (2018; doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002526).

Ryan Halvorson

Ryan Halvorson is an award-winning writer and editor, and IDEA's director of event programming.

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