Research: Pattern of steps is associated with weight loss.

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Pedometers may help weight loss after all

Mechanical Pedometer

Mechanical Pedometer

Pedometers are all the rage today.  From the Fitbit to the Apple Watch, it is hard to find someone without one on their wrists.  I personally wear one on each wrist.  I wind the motivations and functionality of the Apple Watch to be superior, but the step counts to better on the Fitbit.  The problem with pedometers is that there is scant evidence to show they help for weight loss.  

Although I write about it in the past, I have little evidence to pack up the weight loss tip in Weight loss tip: Buy a Pedometer.  That being said, a new study looks at the question fo weight loss and pedometers from a new angle[1].  The aim of this study was to examine the association between the amount, intensity, and pattern of steps with weight loss.  Before, no one had looked at the pattern of steps.  

The study involved 260 participants with an average age of nearly 43 years and an average BMI of nearly 33 Kg/m2.   The intervention was an 18‐month weight‐loss intervention that included a calorie‐restricted diet and prescribed physical activity tracked with a pedometer. Participants were categorized by 18‐month weight loss as weight gain or the percentage of weight loss (0-5%, 5-10%, or over 10%).  Steps per day were measured at 0, 6, 12, and 18 months and defined as total steps per day, total steps·day of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity in bouts of ≥ 10 minutes, moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity in bouts of < 10 minutes, or non‐moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity steps per day.

The researchers found that the group that lost the most weight with at least 10% lost averaged the most steps at 9822 steps per day at 18 months and weight gain group has 7801 steps on the average.  The bouts of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity measuring 3482 steps also have 10% weight loss at 18 months, and folks with an average  1075 steps of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical has weight gain.  

The bottom line: Pedometer use and an average of 10,000 steps per day and approximately 3,500 steps per day of bouts of moderate‐to‐vigorous physical activity are associated with enhanced weight loss in a behavioral intervention.  I strongly recommend the use of a pedometer for weight loss and maintenance.  


S. A. Creasy, W. Lang, D. F. Tate, K. K. Davis, and J. M. Jakicic, “Pattern of Daily Steps is Associated with Weight Loss: Secondary Analysis from the Step-Up Randomized Trial,” Obesity, vol. 26, no. 6, pp. 977–984, Apr. 2018 [Online]. Available: 10.1002/oby.22171″ target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>
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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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