CANPLAY pedometer normative reference data for 21,271 children and 12,956 adolescents

Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2013 Jan;45(1):123-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826a0f3a.


Purpose: The mean expected values of pedometer-determined steps per day for children and adolescents have been derived primarily from isolated studies on small or specific populations. The purpose of this study is to provide sex- and age-specific normative values so that researchers, clinicians/practitioners, other childcare workers, and families can compare children's and adolescents' pedometer-determined data to that of their peers.

Methods: Data were collected between 2005 and 2011 on 21,271 children 5-12 yr and 12,956 adolescents 13-19 yr. Participants were recruited by telephone, logged their pedometer-determined steps per day for 7 d, and mailed back their logs. Normative data were provided in three formats: 1) mean steps per day by single-year age by sex; 2) increments of 5 percentile values for each single-year age by sex, smoothed within and across years; and 3) quintiles (in ascending order: lowest, lower than average, average, higher than average, and highest) for four combined age groups (5-7, 8-10, 11-14, and 15-19 yr) stratified by sex.

Results: Mean steps per day increased from 11,602 steps per day among 5-yr-olds to a sample peak mean value of 12,348 steps per day among 10-yr-olds, and then declined to 9778-10,073 among 15- to 19-yr-olds. Although not significantly different among 19-yr-olds, mean steps per day were higher among boys than girls at every age.

Conclusions: CANPLAY data represent the largest and most comprehensive set of sex- and age-specific normative reference data for children's and adolescents' pedometer-determined physical activity to date. A clear assemblage of such values is fundamental for surveillance, screening, comparison purposes, planning strategies, prioritizing efforts and distributing resources, evaluating intervention effects, and tracking change.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry* / instrumentation
  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Canada
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Activity*
  • Reference Values
  • Sex Distribution