Patterns of adult stepping cadence in the 2005-2006 NHANES

Prev Med. 2011 Sep;53(3):178-81. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2011.06.004. Epub 2011 Jun 25.


Objective: Laboratory studies of adult walking behavior have consistently found that a cadence of 100 steps/min is a reasonable threshold for moderate intensity. The purpose of this study was to determine cadence patterns in free-living adults, and in particular, time spent at increasing cadence increments including 100 steps/min and beyond.

Method: 3744 adults ≥20 years provided at least one valid day (minimally 10/24 h of wear) of minute-by-minute accelerometer-determined step data during the 2005-2006 U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). Means for time spent (min/day) and steps/day were calculated for 8 cadence categories including zero and each incremental cadence band thereafter beginning with 1-19 through 100-119, and beyond to 120+steps/min.

Results: U.S. adults accumulate ≅4.8 h/day of zero cadence during wearing time, ≅8.7 h between 1 and 59 steps/min, ≅16 min/day at cadences of 60-79 steps/min, ≅8 min at 80-99 steps/min, ≅5 min at 100-119 steps/min, and ≅2 min at 120+steps/min.

Conclusion: Self-selected walking at 100+steps/min was a rare phenomenon in this large free-living sample of the U.S. population, but study participants did accumulate ≅30 min/day at cadences of 60+steps/min.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Actigraphy / instrumentation
  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Female
  • Gait / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • United States
  • Walking / physiology*
  • Young Adult