It pays to count, pedometer study finds

CHICAGO Wed Nov 21, 2007 3:52pm EST

Women exercise as a man walks past on Clapham Common in London May 17, 2006. People who use a pedometer to measure how far they walk lose more weight, exercise more and have lower blood pressure than those who do not, researchers said on Tuesday. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Women exercise as a man walks past on Clapham Common in London May 17, 2006. People who use a pedometer to measure how far they walk lose more weight, exercise more and have lower blood pressure than those who do not, researchers said on Tuesday.

Credit: Reuters/Kieran Doherty

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - People who use a pedometer to measure how far they walk lose more weight, exercise more and have lower blood pressure than those who do not, researchers said on Tuesday.

It was not clear from the study, the first to review most previously published research on pedometer use, whether those who use the devices are more motivated in the first place, just benefit from the assistance, or both.

Many pedometer-related programs recommend users set daily goals for themselves, such as 10,000 steps or about 5 miles (8 km).

Dr. Dena Bravata and colleagues at Stanford University in California reviewed 26 earlier studies covering 2,767 people, with an average age of 49.

It found that pedometer users took more than 2,000 extra steps a day compared to those who did not use the devices, and that having a goal of reaching a certain number of steps was a significant factor.

Those using the devices, which are worn on the hip, also lost weight as measured by body mass index, and significantly reduced their systolic blood pressure -- the top number in blood pressure readings, which indicates the maximum pressure of a contracting heart.

"Our results suggest that the use of these small, relatively inexpensive devices is associated with significant increases in physical activity and improvements in some key health outcomes, at least in the short term," Bravata's team wrote in the report published in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association.

"The extent to which these results are durable over the long term is unknown," they said.

(Reporting and writing by Michael Conlon; Editing by Maggie Fox and Bill Trott)

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