Research Study Abstract

Patterns of Change in Daily Step Counts, Where Does the Change Happen?

  • Presented on 2011

Purpose To examine the change in the average daily steps taken at different cadence (steps/min) levels when a change in total steps/day occurs.

Methods A total of 43 people participated in a one week intervention with the goal to increase time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. Participants wore a GT3X accelerometer for 7 consecutive days before and after the one-week intervention. There was a wide range of changes in steps/day, ranging from decreases of 3,900 steps/day to increases of 2,835 steps/day. Participants who either decreased (DEC) or increased (INC) their steps/day by 1,500 steps or more were used in this analysis. The average number of steps taken at different cadences (1-19, 20-39, 40-59, 60-79, 80-99, 100-119, and 120+ steps/min) was calculated for pre- and post-intervention data. Paired sample t-tests were used to compare pre- and post-results within each group.

Results DEC participants (n = 7) averaged 7,259 ± 1,453 steps/day pre-intervention and 5,283 ± 898 steps/day post-intervention. INC (n = 9) participants averaged 6,088 ± 2,902 and 8,069 ± 2,963 steps/day pre- and post-intervention, respectively. The results by cadence levels for the DEC and INC groups can be seen in the Table below. Significant differences (p<.05) were found for the 1-19, 20-39, and 40-59 cadence levels for the DEC group and in the 40-49, 60-79, and 80-99 cadence levels in the INC group.

Conclusion In this preliminary investigation in a sample of overweight/obese participants, the change in steps/day among participants who decreased their total steps/day occurred in the non-purposeful movement cadence levels (i.e., < 60 steps/min) while the changes in those who increased their overall steps/day occurred in the purposeful (i.e., walking) cadence levels. These results provide insights into appropriate cadence targets to increase overall physical activity levels for future interventions.