The feasibility of using pedometers and brief advice to increase activity in sedentary older women: a pilot study

Jacqui A. Sugden, Falko F. Sniehotta, Peter T. Donnan, Paul Boyle, Derek W. Johnston, Marion E. T. McMurdo

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    Background: People over the age of 70 carry the greatest burden of chronic disease, disability and health care use. Participation in physical activity is crucial for health, and walking accounts for much of the physical activity undertaken by sedentary individuals. Pedometers are a useful motivational tool to encourage increased walking and they are cheap and easy to use. The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate the feasibility of the use of pedometers plus a theory-based intervention to assist sedentary older women to accumulate increasing amounts of physical activity, mainly through walking.

    Methods: Female participants over the age of 70 were recruited from primary care and randomised to receive either pedometer plus a theory-based intervention or a theory-based intervention alone. The theory-based intervention consisted of motivational techniques, goal-setting, barrier identification and self-monitoring with pedometers and daily diaries. The pedometer group were further randomised to one of three target groups: a 10%, 15% or 20% monthly increase in step count to assess the achievability and acceptability of a range of targets. The primary outcome was change in daily activity levels measured by accelerometry. Secondary outcome measures were lower limb function, health related quality of life, anxiety and depression.

    Results: 54 participants were recruited into the study, with an average age of 76. There were 9 drop outs, 45 completing the study. All participants in the pedometer group found the pedometers easy to use and there was good compliance with diary keeping (96% in the pedometer group and 83% in the theory-based intervention alone group). There was a strong correlation (0.78) between accelerometry and pedometer step counts i.e. indicating that walking was the main physical activity amongst participants. There was a greater increase in activity (accelerometry) amongst those in the 20% target pedometer group compared to the other groups, although not reaching statistical significance (p = 0.192).

    Conclusion: We have demonstrated that it is feasible to use pedometers and provide theory-based advice to community dwelling sedentary older women to increase physical activity levels and a larger study is planned to investigate this further.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number169
    Pages (from-to)-
    Number of pages9
    JournalBMC Health Services Research
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Aug 2008


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