Descriptive epidemiology of youth pedometer-determined physical activity: CANPLAY

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010 Sep;42(9):1639-43. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181d58a92.


Purpose: Objective measurement with body worn instrumentation is a preferred and increasingly common way to gather information about young people's physical activity. Measured samples have been typically small and recruited through schools. The purpose of this article was to present the descriptive epidemiology of children and youth pedometer-determined physical activity on the basis of a large national sample.

Methods: Children and youth (19,789) were recruited through random digit dialing. Participants were asked to wear the pedometer for seven consecutive days and to log daily steps. Of the 58% of participants who returned pedometer data, 95% wore the pedometer for at least 5 d. Daily step counts below 1000 or above 30,000 steps were truncated accordingly, and all values were included in the descriptive analysis.

Results: Boys and girls aged 5-19 yr took 12,259 and 10,906 steps per day, respectively. Daily steps were higher among boys than girls and declined by age group in a pattern consistent with that predicted by other smaller samples internationally. Weekday steps per day were generally higher than weekend day steps per day and varied by season.

Conclusions: This study demonstrates the viability of using relatively inexpensive pedometers and methods for the surveillance of young people's physical activity. The resulting descriptive data provide key information regarding the population distribution of pedometer-determined physical activity that may be useful for identifying target groups for population strategies and other interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Monitoring, Physiologic / instrumentation*
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult