Expected values for steps/day in special populations

Prev Med. 2009 Aug;49(1):3-11. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 May 4.


Objective: To assemble expected values for free-living steps/day in special populations living with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

Method: Studies identified since 2000 were categorized into similar illnesses and disabilities, capturing the original reference, sample descriptions, descriptions of instruments used (i.e., pedometers, piezoelectric pedometers, accelerometers), number of days worn, and mean and standard deviation of steps/day.

Results: Sixty unique studies represented: 1) heart and vascular diseases, 2) chronic obstructive lung disease, 3) diabetes and dialysis, 4) breast cancer, 5) neuromuscular diseases, 6) arthritis, joint replacement, and fibromyalgia, 7) disability (including mental retardation/intellectual difficulties), and 8) other special populations. A median steps/day was calculated for each category. Waist-mounted and ankle-mounted instruments were considered separately due to fundamental differences in assessment properties. For waist-mounted instruments, the lowest median values for steps/day are found in disabled older adults (1214 steps/day) followed by people living with COPD (2237 steps/day). The highest values were seen in individuals with Type 1 diabetes (8008 steps/day), mental retardation/intellectual disability (7787 steps/day), and HIV (7545 steps/day).

Conclusion: This review will be useful to researchers/practitioners who work with individuals living with chronic illness and disability and require such information for surveillance, screening, intervention, and program evaluation purposes.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease*
  • Disabled Persons*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation
  • Walking*