Step It Up ECU : Comparing a 10 000 Step a Day Goal to a Small Relative Step Goal in a Pedometer-Based Physical Activity Intervention

ECU Author/Contributor (non-ECU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily DiNatale (Creator)
East Carolina University (ECU )
Web Site:
Lesley D. Lutes

Abstract: Pedometers have been shown to be valid and effective tools for increasing physical activity which is associated with improved overall health. While most research encourages participants to achieve 10 000 steps per day there is little research conducted on the effectiveness of other types of step goals. The purpose of the present pilot study was to compare the effectiveness of a 10 000 step-a-day goal versus a small relative participant-selected step goal. Participants (N = 37) were primarily female (97%) obese (BMI M = 32.67 SD = 4.60) middle-aged (M = 43.49 SD = 9.14) borderline sedentary (M = 5497 steps/day SD = 2964) Caucasian (59%) and African American (41%) university employees. Participants were randomly assigned to either a: 1) 10 000 daily step goal or b) small changes relative step goal (typically a 2 500-3 000 total step increase). Participants then engaged in weekly 15-minute sessions over a 12 week period. Seven meetings were face-to-face and 5 were conducted via phone. Seventy-three percent of participants completed the study. Measures were given to assess depression life satisfaction and cognitive and behavioral self-management strategies. A repeated-measures ANOVA showed a significant main effect of time on step counts (p < 0.001) but no differences between groups (p = 0.52). Notably participants in the relative goal group achieved their step goal increase of approximately 3 000 steps while participants in the 10 000 step group did not meet their 10 000 goal on average. Cognitive and behavioral self-management strategies were related to higher step counts (r = 0.57 p = 0.002) and step count changes (r = 0.43 p = 0.027). Depressive symptoms (p < 0.001) and life satisfaction (p = 0.016) improved over the course of the study but did not differ between groups. While these data are preliminary they suggest that both goal types can increase step counts but a relative step count and psychological and behavioral factors play an important role in goal achievement. 

Additional Information

Date: 2012
Clinical psychology
Goal (Psychology)

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