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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2004 Sep;36(9):1567-73.

Descriptive epidemiology of pedometer-determined physical activity.

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  • 1Department of Exercise and Wellness, Arizona State University East, Mesa, AZ 85212, USA.



The dual purposes of this study were: 1) to provide preliminary descriptive epidemiology data representing pedometer-determined physical activity (PA) and 2) to explore sources of intra-individual variability in steps per day.


All participants (76 males, age = 48.4 +/- 16.3 yr, body mass index (BMI) = 27.1 +/- 5.1 kg x m(-2); 133 females, age = 47.4 +/- 17.5 yr, BMI = 26.9 +/- 5.7 kg x m(-2)) resided in Sumter County, SC, and were recruited by telephone to receive a mailed kit to self-monitor PA for 1 wk. Statistical analyses compared mean steps per day between sexes, races, age groups, education and income levels, and BMI categories. Mean steps per day were also compared between: 1) weekdays versus weekend days, 2) workdays versus nonworkdays, and 3) days of sport/exercise versus no participation.


The entire sample took 5931 +/- 3664 steps x d(-1) (males = 7192 +/- 3596 vs females = 5210 +/- 3518 steps x d(-1), t = 7.88, P < 0.0001). Significant differences were also indicated by race, age, education, income, and BMI. In addition, weekdays were significantly higher than weekend days, workdays were higher than nonworkdays, and sport/exercise days were higher than nonsport/exercise days.


The large standard deviations reflect a wide distribution of ambulatory behavior. Regardless, important differences are still evident by demographic characteristics, BMI categories, day of the week, and reported engagement in work or sport/exercise.

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