Using a Pedometer Ups Leisure Walking Time for Older Adults

Use of pedometer-based intervention rather than time-based goals increases walking time

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Compared with time-based physical activity goals, using a pedometer to measure steps increases leisure walking time, even a year after the initial intervention, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Gregory S. Kolt, Ph.D., of the University of Western Sydney in Australia, and colleagues conducted a randomized, controlled study involving 330 adults aged 65 years and older with low levels of daily activity. Participants were randomly assigned to use a pedometer and step-based physical activity goals (pedometer Green prescription) or time-based physical activity goals (standard Green Prescription) for three months.

Of the 57 percent of participants who completed the intervention, the researchers found that, at 12 months, there was a significant increase in leisure walking time in the pedometer Green Prescription group versus the standard Green Prescription group (49.6 versus 28.1 minutes per week). At the end of the intervention there were significant improvements in both groups across all physical activity domains, which were largely maintained after 12 months. Body mass index did not change in either group, while there were significant improvements in blood pressure in both groups.

"Incorporating pedometers into the Green Prescription is a useful strategy for consideration in physical activity promotion for older people, and our results suggest that these devices may have a large untapped potential for public health benefit," the authors write.

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