(click on the title ‘Pedometers and physical activity to see full posting)
Pedometers have been commercially available since the 1980′s and have been a source of motivation to increase steps/day for health benefits such as reducing blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, osteoporosis and depression. There is mounting evidence regarding the benefits of exercise to control Parkinson’s symptoms and lack of exercise can worsen Parkinson’s symptoms. It is often difficult to motivate individuals to be more active but a pedometer has shown to be one effective tool.
Initially, when someone hears they must walk 10,000 steps/day, it can make them give up before even starting. I tried to walk 10,000 steps with an inexpensive pedometer and had great difficulty attaining that goal. Positioning the pedometer just right so that every step is counted is a common problem which I have observed and personally experienced. Often, the first few steps are not counted.
There is a new generation of pedometers which seem to count EVERY step and the placement is not critical. In fact you can just throw it in your pocket, clip it to any part of your clothing at any angle or wear a wrist bracelet. I recently purchased a ‘fitbit‘ which monitors your activity (steps, stairs and calories burned) which can be wirelessly downloaded to a computer or app and graphed so you can follow your progress effortlessly. It resets on it’s own everyday and needs to be recharged on a weekly basis for a brief period. You can find the ‘Fitbit’ on Amazon however there are also other companies which manufacture similar devices such as Nike and Jawbone. Looking at the reviews on Amazon, the Fitbit is showing the best rating.
Below are some guidelines to compare your steps/day and level of physical activity with healthy adults:
‘Sedentary lifestyle’ = less than 5000 steps/day
‘low active’ = 5000 to 7499 steps/day
‘somewhat active’ = 7500 to 9999 steps/day
‘active’ = 10,000 or more steps/day
‘highly active’ = greater than 12,500 steps/day
Bravata, D. M., C. Smith-Spangler, et al. (2007). “Using pedometers to increase physical activity and improve health: a systematic review.” JAMA 298(19): 2296-304.
Kenyon, A., M. McEvoy, et al. “Validity of pedometers in people with physical disabilities: a systematic review.” Arch Phys Med Rehabil 94(6): 1161-70.
Bohannon, R. W. (2007). “Number of pedometer-assessed steps taken per day by adults: a descriptive meta-analysis.” Phys Ther 87(12): 1642-50.
Tudor-Locke, C. and D. R. Bassett, Jr. (2004). “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.” Sports Med 34(1): 1-8.