The number of steps/minute (i.e., cadence) that equates to moderate intensity in adolescents is not known. To that end, 31 adolescent females walked on a treadmill at 5 different speeds while wearing an ActivPAL accelerometer and oxygen uptake was recorded by indirect calorimetry. The relationship between metabolic equivalents (METs) and cadence was explored using 3 different analytical approaches. Cadence was a significant predictor of METs (r=.70; p<.001). Moderate intensity (3 METs) corresponded to 94 or 114 steps/minute based on the mixed model and ROC analysis, respectively. These two values, and a practical value of 100 steps/minute, were cross-validated on an independent sample of 33 adolescent females during over-ground walking at 3 speeds. The sensitivity and specificity of each value correctly identifying 3 METs were 98.5% and 87.2% for 94 steps/minute, 72.9% and 98.8 for 114 steps/minute and 96.5% and 95.7% for 100 steps/minute. Compromising on a single cadence of 100 steps/minute would be a practical value that approximates moderate intensity in adolescent females and can be used for physical activity interpretation and promotion.
Harrington and Tudor-Locke are with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA. Dowd and Donnelly are with the University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.