An Examination of the 10,000-Step Goal in Sedentary Women with Different Baseline Step Counts

in Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal
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  • 1 James Madison University School of Kinesiology & Recreation Harrisonburg, VA 22807
  • 2 Arizona State University, East Mesa, AZ 85212-0180
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National guidelines have emphasized the benefits of moderate physical activity for promoting health and reducing sedentary behavior, a lifestyle particularly common in women (USDHHS, 2000). This has led to the marketing and promotion of 10,000 steps per day using a pedometer, even though empirical evidence to support this step goal is lacking. The purposes of this study were to determine if this prescribed daily step goal was attainable for sedentary women and to determine the effect of this goal on step counts. Forty-five sedentary women, who were divided into three groups based on mean baseline step counts (very low activity, VLA; low activity, LA; more active, MA) were asked to attain 10,000 steps per day for four weeks. Based upon our analyses, the VLA and LA groups attained the 10,000-step goal a significantly lower mean number of days per week than the MA group. Although the VLA group was not able to attain 10,000 steps per day over the short term, they did increase their step counts in response to a 10,000-step daily goal. In fact, the weekly mean step counts for all three groups improved from baseline as the study progressed. There was, however, a significant decline in step counts from step goal week 3 to week 4 in the MA group, whereas the step counts remained significantly higher than baseline for all four weeks in the VLA and LA groups. As hypothesized, sedentary women with low baseline step counts were low in goal attainment. Counter to hypothesized, motivated sedentary women responded to the 10,000-step goal over the short-term with increased step counts, even when goal attainment was low. Additional research is necessary to test the long-term adherence to the 10,000-step goal among sedentary women. In addition more comprehensive study of step counting as a motivator of activity is necessary including comparison of the 10,000-step goal standard to individualized goals based on baseline step counts.

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