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Step to It

step trackers increase activity

Are you sitting down for this? Don’t! Many adults struggle to get out of their chairs, especially during the workday -- whether it’s sitting at a table for meetings or behind a desk. Sedentary time is defined as time spent sitting or reclining during the day, including time spent at work.

Step counters have recently gained popularity in walking programs, aiming to reduce sedentary time. Sedentary time is an independent risk factor for many chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer. How effective are step counters in getting us out of our chairs? A recent meta-analysis in Medicine compared the sedentary time in adults with and without interventions using step counters.

This study included data from walking programs where adults used step counters, pedometers or accelerometers as the motivation for physical activity. Sedentary time was self-reported on a physical activity questionnaire or measured from an accelerometer. The study found that adults using a step counter combined with a step goal had significantly less sedentary time. The adults using pedometers without a step goal did not show a significant decrease in sedentary time.

Bottom Line: Using pedometers with a specific step goal can be an effective tool in reducing sedentary time. It is unclear if the standard 10,000 steps per day is best to reduce sedentary time or if step goals should be individualized. Simply wearing a step tracker is not enough -- set a goal to motivate you to achieve more steps.

Written by: Melissa Kowalski, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern


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