Using a pedometer to count steps as part of a 12-week walking program can result in healthier lifestyles years later, according to researchers at St George's, University of London. Lasting fitness is a worthwhile goal – studies show 30 minutes or more of daily exercise on most days of the week can provide important health benefits.
In the British study, published in PLOS Medicine, researchers compared activity levels in adults enrolled in two National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) funded trials – PACE-UP, which involved 1,023 inactive people between ages 45 and 75, and PACE-Lift, which involved 298 people between 60 and 75.
The researchers found that participants who took part in a walking program that included professional physical activity consultations, advice about behavior change techniques, pedometer distribution, and other interventions were more physically active years later than those in the comparison groups who received standard care. After three years, PACE-UP participants in walking programs got in an average of 600 more steps per day and 24 to 28 minutes more of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity per week on average. After four years, PACE-Lift participants in walking programs got in about 400 more steps per day and 33 more minutes per week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.