How Many Steps per Day Are Needed to Elicit Weight Loss in Obese Clients?

By Len Kravitz, PhD
Jan 5, 2016

In May 2015 in San Diego, ACSM’s 62nd annual meeting brought together thousands of professionals from around the globe in more than 70 disciplines to exchange research, present new clinical techniques and share scientific advancements in public health, physical activity, sports medicine and exercise science. This article covers just one of six studies reviewed. To read all of them, see “Six Takeaways From the ACSM Annual Meeting” in the online IDEA Library or in the September 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. One of the topics the column explored the number of daily steps required to induce weigh loss in obese clients, summarized here.


The study:

Moderate-to-Vigorous Daily Steps Is Associated With Weight Loss in Adults With Obesity. S. Creasy, K.K. Davis
&
J.M. Jakicic, University of Pittsburgh. Supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.


Methodology:

Although a goal of 10,000 steps per day is commonly recommended for health benefits, whether this number of steps per day improves weight loss in obese clients has not been investigated. Researchers recruited 212 adults (average age 43; average BMI 32.7 kg/m2) to participate in an 18-month behavior intervention that included a combination of telephone contacts, in-person meetings, a diet of 1,200–1,800 kcal per day, and walking on most days of the week.

Steps per day were assessed with a SenseWear armband. For the data analysis at 18 months, subjects were grouped based on total steps per day as LOW (under 7,000,

n

= 61), MODERATE (7,000–10,000,

n

= 72) or HIGH (more than 10,000,

n

= 79).

Percent weight loss at 18 months was greatest in the HIGH group (12.9% BF loss; 12,994 steps/day), followed by the MODERATE group (8.4% BF loss; 8,451 steps/day) and then the LOW group (7.5% BF loss; 5,482 steps/day). Researchers determined that subjects who walked at least 10 minutes per day (of their total steps) at a moderate to vigorous pace had the greatest weight-loss success.


Take-home message:

Obese clients seeking weight loss are encouraged to progressively strive to accumulate 10,000–13,000 steps per day, including at least 10 minutes of stepping at a moderate to vigorous intensity.

To read more about the other topics explored at ACSM this year, please see “Six Takeaways From the ACSM Annual Meeting” in the online IDEA Library or in the September 2015 print issue of IDEA Fitness Journal. If you cannot access the full article and would like to, please contact the IDEA Inspired Service Team at (800) 999-4332, ext. 7.

Len Kravitz, PhD

Len Kravitz, PhD

"Len Kravitz, PhD, is a program coordinator and professor of exercise science at the University of New Mexico where he received the Presidential Award of Distinction and Outstanding Teacher of the Year award. In addition to being a 2016 inductee into the National Fitness Hall of Fame, Len has received the prestigious Specialty Presenter of the Year and Lifetime Achievement Award from CanFitPro."

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