The Use of Pedometers for Monitoring Physical Activity in Children and Adolescents: Measurement Considerations

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Pedometers are increasingly being used to measure physical activity in children and adolescents. This review provides an overview of common measurement issues relating to their use.

Methods:

Studies addressing the following measurement issues in children/adolescents (aged 3−18 years) were included: pedometer validity and reliability, monitoring period, wear time, reactivity, and data treatment and reporting. Pedometer surveillance studies in children/adolescents (aged: 4−18 years) were also included to enable common measurement protocols to be highlighted.

Results:

In children > 5 years, pedometers provide a valid and reliable, objective measure of ambulatory activity. Further evidence is required on pedometer validity in preschool children. Across all ages, optimal monitoring frames to detect habitual activity have yet to be determined; most surveillance studies use 7 days. It is recommended that standardized wear time criteria are established for different age groups, and that wear times are reported. As activity varies between weekdays and weekend days, researchers interested in habitual activity should include both types of day in surveillance studies. There is conflicting evidence on the presence of reactivity to pedometers.

Conclusions:

Pedometers are a suitable tool to objectively assess ambulatory activity in children (> 5 years) and adolescents. This review provides recommendations to enhance the standardization of measurement protocols.

The authors are with the School of Sport, Exercise, and Health Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough, United Kingdom.

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