Expected Values for Pedometer-Determined Physical Activity in Older Populations

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009 Aug 25;6:59. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-6-59.


The purpose of this review is to update expected values for pedometer-determined physical activity in free-living healthy older populations. A search of the literature published since 2001 began with a keyword (pedometer, "step counter," "step activity monitor" or "accelerometer AND steps/day") search of PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), SportDiscus, and PsychInfo. An iterative process was then undertaken to abstract and verify studies of pedometer-determined physical activity (captured in terms of steps taken; distance only was not accepted) in free-living adult populations described as >/= 50 years of age (studies that included samples which spanned this threshold were not included unless they provided at least some appropriately age-stratified data) and not specifically recruited based on any chronic disease or disability. We identified 28 studies representing at least 1,343 males and 3,098 females ranging in age from 50-94 years. Eighteen (or 64%) of the studies clearly identified using a Yamax pedometer model. Monitoring frames ranged from 3 days to 1 year; the modal length of time was 7 days (17 studies, or 61%). Mean pedometer-determined physical activity ranged from 2,015 steps/day to 8,938 steps/day. In those studies reporting such data, consistent patterns emerged: males generally took more steps/day than similarly aged females, steps/day decreased across study-specific age groupings, and BMI-defined normal weight individuals took more steps/day than overweight/obese older adults. The range of 2,000-9,000 steps/day likely reflects the true variability of physical activity behaviors in older populations. More explicit patterns, for example sex- and age-specific relationships, remain to be informed by future research endeavors.