Wearing a pedometer that tracks daily physical activity can motivate you to
sit less, move more and perhaps shed unwanted pounds, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Indiana University found this type of intervention was
particularly helpful for workers who had desk jobs. And, they noted, pedometers
are also an inexpensive way to target a large number of people.
"Even if somebody works out 30 minutes a day, the fact that they're sitting
and not moving for long periods of time for the rest of the day is, in and of
itself, detrimental to their health and well-being, physiologically," said one
of the study's researchers, Saurabh Thosar, an associate instructor at the
Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington.
How the study was done
Four men and 22 women between 40 and 66 years old participated in the 12-week
study. In order to monitor their physical activity, they wore a $30 pedometer
every day, which tracked their lower leg movements.
This particular type of pedometer could be connected to a computer so that
information on the amount of leg movements over time could be downloaded and
viewed as a graph. The participants were instructed to download their data once
a week. During the periods they showed no leg movements, they were urged to be
more active. They were also emailed tips on nutrition and exercise twice a
Over the course of the study, the researchers found the participants were
much more physically active, resulting in a mean weight drop among the men and
women of nearly 2.5 pounds.
"This is a very simple intervention that can reach a large number of people
at a low cost," study co-author, Jeanne Johnston, clinical associate professor
in the School of Public Health's department of kinesiology, said in the news
release. "As companies and communities develop programmes to increase physical
activity and positively impact health parameters such as weight, there is a need
to think of the associated costs."
The study findings were discussed at last week's annual meeting of the
American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis. Data presented at medical
meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed
The US Centers of Disease Control and Prevention has more about the benefits
of physical activity.