Background: The study purpose was to establish the number (and type) of days needed to estimate mean pedometer-determined steps/day in a field setting.
Methods: Seven days of data were collected from 90 participants (33 males, age = 49.1 +/- 16.2 years, BMI = 27.2 +/- 4.1 kg/m(2); 57 females, age = 44.8 +/- 16.9 years, BMI = 27.0 +/- 5.9 kg/m(2)). Mean steps/day were computed for all 7 days (the criterion), each single day, and combinations of days. Analyses included repeated measures ANOVA, intra-class correlations (ICC), and regression.
Results: There was a significant difference (P < 0.001) between days. The difference was limited to Sunday and accounted for 5% of the variance. ICC analyses indicated a minimum of 3 days is necessary to achieve a reliability of 0.80. The adjusted R(2) was 0.79 for a single day (specifically Wednesday), 0.89 for 2 days (Wednesday, Thursday), and 0.94 for 3 days (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday). Sunday was the last day to enter the model.
Conclusions: Although there is a statistical difference between days, there is little practical difference, and the primary distinction appears limited to Sunday. Although a single day of collection is not acceptable, any 3 days can provide a sufficient estimate.