Background: While pedometers have an important role to play in the promotion of lifestyle activity among adults, less known is regarding their impact on behavior among youth (i.e. children and adolescents). The primary aim of this review was to identify the effectiveness of pedometers in promoting physical activity among youth. Secondary aims were to assess the quality of existing studies and examine the different ways that pedometers have been used to promote activity.
Methods: A systematic search of six electronic databases was conducted using combinations of the following key words 'physical activity', 'walking', 'intervention', 'promotion', 'evaluation', and 'pedometer'. The quality of the studies was assessed against predetermined criteria.
Results: Our search identified 14 studies, of which 12 resulted in increases in physical activity. Three studies used pedometers as open-loop feedback mechanisms to increase physical activity by making access to sedentary activities contingent on achieving activity targets. Ten studies used pedometers for self-monitoring and one study incorporated pedometers into an integrated school curriculum.
Conclusions: Pedometers have been used successfully in a variety of ways to promote activity among youth. Since there are so few studies at this time, there is ample need and opportunity to contribute to the knowledge base.