Pedometer Program Effects on Physical Activity Levels in Older Adults

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Newly released research in the December, 2009 issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) recommends peer-focused programs and access to healthcare providers for successful implementation of walking programs for older adults. Pedometers can be a useful tool for motivating people to be physically active, and their use and availability as an affordable tool have increased dramatically in recent years.

Newly released research in the December, 2009 issue of Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (RQES) recommends peer-focused programs and access to healthcare providers for successful implementation of walking programs. Pedometers can be a useful tool for motivating people to be physically active, and their use and availability as an affordable tool have increased dramatically in recent years.

This study sought to find out more about the perceptions of participants who had been involved in a pedometer-based walking program and learn more about the program's effects on their physical activity. 27 adults aged 55 to 86 years old who had previously participated in a walking program, participated in focus group sessions to explore specific components that contributed to the increased physical activity seen as a result of the walking program.

Four topic areas emerged; factors that led to increases in daily step count, factors that hindered increases in daily step count, benefits of a pedometer intervention program, and recommendations on how to improve older adults' physical activity.

Factors that led to increases in daily step count included the pedometer, record keeping, walking partners and places to walk. Hindering factors included weather, physical condition/health issue, time commitment, safety, and lack of a walking partner.

Perceived benefits of the pedometer program included, among others, increased physical strength, better balance/less fear of falling, weight loss and better sleep. Notably, recommendations from the participants included not only having many safe and appealing places to walk, walking partners and accountability, but having the program be simple and easy to follow, recommendations from health care providers to participate and programs offered by health-fitness professionals.

RQES is a journal of the Research Consortium of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD). The most enduring research journal in the field of Kinesiology, RQES is a highly respected professional journal offering the latest research in the art and science of human movement studies. Many resources related to physical activity and older adults are available through AAHPERD's American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation, Council on Aging and Adult Development.

AAHPERD, an alliance of five national associations, six district associations, and a Research Consortium, provides its members with a comprehensive and coordinated array of resources, support and programs to help practitioners improve their skills to further the health and well-being of the American public. It is the largest organization of professionals involved in physical education, recreation, fitness, dance, health promotion and all specialties related to achieving an active, healthy lifestyle. AAHPERD serves 22,000 members and has its headquarters in Reston, Virginia, 25 miles west of Washington, DC. To learn more, visit: http://www.aahperd.org.

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Gayle Claman
AAHPERD
703-476-3400 ext. 415
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Nancy E. Richeson
University of Southern Maine
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