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Am J Epidemiol. 1995 Nov 1;142(9):989-99.

Physical activity assessment using a pedometer and its comparison with a questionnaire in a large population survey.

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  • 1Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, Lausanne University, Switzerland.


The aim of this study was to evaluate the use of the pedometer in epidemiologic research on physical activity. Within the framework of a health examination survey in 1988-1989, physical activity was assessed in a representative population sample of 493 men and women aged 25-74 years who were residents of Switzerland. They wore a pedometer for 1 week at work and during leisure time, and the results, converted into steps per day, were compared with answers to a questionnaire. The average number of steps per day decreased from 11,900 to 6,700 and from 9,300 to 7,300 for men and women, respectively, in the youngest to the oldest age groups. For men, categorized according to type of physical activity at work, there was a highly significant difference in the number of steps (p < 0.001), whereas in women the results were associated with leisure-time physical activity (p = 0.003). For both sexes, practicing sports more than once a week was associated with an important increase in steps per day. Analyzing the number of steps according to the day of the week and occupational category produced an unexpected result: Men with a physically active job engaged in more leisure-time physical activity on the weekend. The pedometer proved to be useful in assessing physical activity in a large, free-living population.

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