Background: The purpose of this review is to update the methodological aspects of pedometry to encourage the consistent use of pedometers for assessment, to decrease sources of error, and to facilitate comparison and interpretation of results.
Methods: The specific measurement topics addressed include: instrument choice, metric choice, validity, reliability, data collection and retrieval, time worn, day-to-day variability, monitoring time frame, reactivity, and data treatment.
Results: A wide variety of valid and reliable instruments are commercially available and we can expect continued evolutions in value-added features as supporting technology improves. Data collection and retrieval has been achieved through various methods, including face-to-face contact, fax, e-mail, website, and conventional mail, and sometimes a combination of these. Day-to-day variation is not random, as would be expected from inconsistent pedometer performance, but rather exposes true behavior instability that can be explained by other factors and described using a coefficient of variation. Data reduction should be conducted cautiously and only after a full discovery (and disclosure) of its impact on aggregated group statistics and their relationship with other parameters.
Conclusions: We have no doubt that research with pedometers will continue to yield new and important insights in the coming years.