Pedometers Spur Exercise
Couch potatoes find 10,000 steps easier than a 30-minute walk
April 13, 2005 -- Pedometers may help couch potatoes get sorely needed
Pedometers keep track of how far a person walks or runs. They also keep
track of the number of steps a person takes. That -- plus advice to take 10,000
steps a day -- seems to be the best motivation for people who don't like to
The finding comes from a study of 58 women by University of Tennessee
researcher Dixie L. Thompson, PhD, and colleagues. The women didn't get much
exercise. In a typical day, they tended to take only 5,760 steps.
That's not much exercise. And it may explain why all of these middle-aged
women (average age, 45) were overweight or obese (although none was severely
At the very least, a person ought to get 30 minutes of exercise every day.
That's about 10,000 steps.
So Thompson and colleagues told half of the women to "take a brisk
30-minute walk on most, preferably all, days of the week." They gave the
women a pedometer -- sealed so the women could not read it -- to record how
many steps they actually took.
The researchers told the other half of the women to walk 10,000 steps every
day. They, too, got a sealed pedometer. But they also got another pedometer
that showed them how many steps they were taking.
Women told to take a 30-minute walk averaged about 10,000 steps -- but only
on days they actually took a walk. On other days, they tended to sit around as
The women given a pedometer and told to walk 10,000 steps every day averaged
about 12,000 steps on days they actually went for a walk. But even on days they
didn't manage to go walking, they still upped their step total to about 8,000
"Pedometers are quite popular now, and with good reason," Thompson
says, in a news release. "Our study shows they can provide an incentive for
people to increase their activity levels. Study participants who monitored
their daily steps with pedometers tended to walk more every day, even when they
were below their goal of 10,000 steps per day."
The findings appear in the April issue of Medicine & Science in
Sports & Exercise.