Do pedometers increase physical activity in sedentary older women? A randomized controlled trial

J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Nov;58(11):2099-106. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.2010.03127.x.


Objectives: To determine the effectiveness of a behavior change intervention (BCI) with or without a pedometer in increasing physical activity in sedentary older women.

Design: Prospective randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Primary care, City of Dundee, Scotland.

Participants: Two hundred four sedentary women aged 70 and older.

Interventions: Six months of BCI, BCI plus pedometer (pedometer plus), or usual care.

Primary outcome: change in daily activity counts measured by accelerometry.

Secondary outcomes: Short Physical Performance Battery, health-related quality of life, depression and anxiety, falls, and National Health Service resource use.

Results: One hundred seventy-nine of 204 (88%) women completed the 6-month trial. Withdrawals were highest from the BCI group (15/68) followed by the pedometer plus group (8/68) and then the control group (2/64). After adjustment for baseline differences, accelerometry counts increased significantly more in the BCI group at 3 months than in the control group (P = .002) and the pedometer plus group (P = .04). By 6 months, accelerometry counts in both intervention groups had fallen to levels that were no longer statistically significantly different from baseline. There were no significant changes in the secondary outcomes.

Conclusion: The BCI was effective in objectively increasing physical activity in sedentary older women. Provision of a pedometer yielded no additional benefit in physical activity, but may have motivated participants to remain in the trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Monitoring, Ambulatory / instrumentation
  • Motor Activity*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sedentary Behavior*
  • Single-Blind Method

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN26786857