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NIHR Signal People maintain increases in physical activity three years after receiving pedometers

Published on 22 May 2018

doi: 10.3310/signal-00594


Middle-aged to older adults given pedometers and a walking programme as part of two NIHR trials continued to be active three years later. In one trial they were walking around 650 extra steps a day. In both trials, they spent about 30 minutes per week extra in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity compared to controls.

Brisk walking is a good way for older adults to achieve physical activity recommendations. This is the long-term follow-up of two large NIHR-funded trials that recruited adults aged 45 to 75 years from 10 UK general practices. Participants received pedometers for 12 weeks with activity guidance given via post or nurse support.

Around 900 people (70% of those enrolled) completed follow-up to three and four years. Controls were later given pedometers but with little instruction or support, which seems central to the effect.

This is the first evidence demonstrating that simple interventions like pedometers lead to sustained increases in physical activity required for long-term health.

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