Step-Rate Recommendations for Moderate-Intensity Walking in Overweight/Obese and Healthy Weight Children

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Physical activity guidelines for youth and adults include recommendations for moderate intensity activity to attain health benefits. Indirect calorimetry studies have consistently reported a 100 ste·min−1 threshold for moderate intensity walking in adults. No indirect calorimetry studies have investigated step-rate thresholds in children and therefore the primary purpose of the study was to determine preliminary step-rate thresholds for moderate physical activity walking in children.


Oxygen consumption was measured at rest and used to determine 3 and 4 age-adjusted metabolic equivalents (A-AMETs) for 4 treadmill trials (self-selected, 2.5, 3.0, and 3.5 MPH). Two trained observers simultaneously counted children’s steps during each walking trial. Step-rate thresholds associated with moderate-intensity activity, defined as 3 and 4 A-AMETs, were determined using hierarchical linear modeling.


Regression analysis determined an overall step rate of 112 and 134 step·min-1 for 3 and 4 A-AMETs respectively. Body mass index (BMI) weight status and age were positively related to A-AMETs.


We suggest age and BMI weight status specific recommendations that range from a low of 100 step·min-1 threshold (3 A-AMETs) for overweight/obese 11- to 12-year-olds to a high of 140 step·min-1 threshold (4 A-AMETs) for healthy weight 9- to 10-year-old children.

Morgan (, Tsuchida, Hetzler, and Stickley are with the Dept of Kinesiology and Rehabilitation Science, University of Hawaii, Honolulu, HI. Beets is with the Dept of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC.