According to literature review published in the Journal of Family Medicine in the February 2008 issue, “Patients who used pedometers walked more, lost weight without dieting, and improved their systolic blood pressure“.
This is based on a meta-analysis published in JAMA (Journal of American Medical Association) 2007 which analyzed over 26 studies of pedometer use in adult outpatients that reported a change in the number of steps walked per day. The 2767 participants in these studies were 85% women, with a mean age of 49. At baseline, most participants were overweight, with normal blood pressure (mean 129/79 mm Hg) and relatively well-controlled cholesterol levels (mean total cholesterol 198 mg/dL, HDL 52 mg/dL, LDL 113 mg/dL). The mean baseline activity level was 7473 steps per day (range 2140â€“12,371). Duration of interventions ranged from 3 to 104 weeks, with a mean of 18 weeks.
Participants walked 2183 steps per day more than they had at baseline when they were using pedometer. To put things in perspective, 2000 steps is about 1 mile. Overall, pedometer users increased their number of steps by 27% over baseline.
This study is the first large meta-analysis to show that pedometer use is an effective intervention for promoting physical activity. Another recent meta-analysis shows that pedometer use is also effective for short-term weight loss, even in the absence of dietary changes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults engage in moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days per week. Yet 40% of adults do not engage in any leisure-time physical activity. This percentage is higher in women (43%), African-Americans (52%), and Hispanics (54%).
The health benefits of exercise are clear. Regular physical activity has been shown to decrease overweight and obesity. It has also been shown to improve control of type 2 diabetes5 and hypertension. Frequent exercise is associated with a decreased mortality rate. Walking has been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular events in women, regardless of BMI.
Walking has similarly been shown to decrease overall mortality among men. Cardiovascular fitness has also been shown to decrease mortality in adults over 60, even in the absence of weight loss.
Pedometers and goal-setting are simple, relatively inexpensive ways to help patients become physically active and lose weight.
- The Journal of Family Medicine, Vol 57, No.2. February 2008.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/National Center for Health Statistics website. FASTATS: Exercise/physical activity. Available at www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/exercise.htm.