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Res Q Exerc Sport. 2003 Dec;74(4):389-94.

Accumulating 10,000 steps: does this meet current physical activity guidelines?

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


The purpose of this study was to determine whether taking 10,000 steps in a day is equivalent to meeting the current minimum physical activity guidelines of accumulating at least 30 min of moderate physical activity (IMPA). Fifty-nine women ages 20-65 years wore a pedometer and accelerometer concurrently on their right hip for 1 day. There were no differences in the age, body mass index, or the amount of time the pedometers and accelerometers were worn between the 10K+ and the < 10K groups. The 10K+ group accumulated significantly more steps and minutes of MPA than the < 10K group (M = 13,084 steps, SD = 2,603 vs. M = 7,518 steps, SD = 1,956; and M = 62.1 min, SD = 27.7 vs. M = 38.8 min, SD = 18.9; p < .05). A 2 x 2 chi-square analysis demonstrated no difference between the proportions of 10K and < 10K participants who met the step goal, when all minutes of MPA accumulated throughout the day were considered (chi2 = 1.8, df = 1, p = .175). When only continuous bouts of MPA lasting > 5 min and > 10 min were considered, a significantly greater proportion of 10K participants met the current physical activity guidelines than the < 10K participants (chi2 = 11.5, df = 1, p = .001, and chi2 = 5.9, df = 1, p = .015, respectively). Our finding, suggest that individuals who accumulate 10,000 steps/day are more likely to meet the current physical activity guidelines by engaging in the length of bouts promoted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College of Sports Medicine (Pate et al., 1995) and the US Surgeon General (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1996). However, the data also reveal that accumulating 10,000 steps/day does not guarantee meeting the guidelines in the bout lengths documented to confer the health benefits of physical activity.

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