Should All Steps Count When Using a Pedometer as a Measure of Physical Activity in Older Adults?

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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The aim of this study was to determine if feedback on step counts from a pedometer encourages participants to increase walking.


Randomly recruited older adults (n = 105) were asked to wear a pedometer for 2 wk. Half the participants were asked to monitor and record daily step counts during week 1 (feedback), then seal the pedometer shut during week 2 (no feedback). Half completed the study in reverse order. Self-reported walking was assessed via telephone interviews.


Significantly more steps were recorded per day (approximately 400 steps per day) when participants (n = 103, 63% women; mean BMI 25 ± 4) monitored their daily step count [t (102) = –2.30, P = 0.02)] compared to the no feedback condition. There was no statistically significant difference in self-reported walking (P = 0.31) between feedback conditions.


The difference in daily step counts observed between conditions, while statistically significant, may not be considered clinically significant. Further, the non-significant difference in self-reported walking between conditions suggests that feedback on daily step counts from a pedometer does not encourage participants to increase their walking.

The author is with the School of Public Health, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Brisbane, QLD 4059, Australia.

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