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How Many Days of Pedometer Monitoring Predict Monthly Ambulatory Activity in Adults?


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: September 2008 - Volume 40 - Issue 9 - p 1589-1595
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e318177eb96
BASIC SCIENCES: Epidemiology

Purpose: To determine how many days of pedometer monitoring are necessary to estimate monthly ambulatory activity in adults.

Methods: Two hundred and twelve adults (64% female; age = 38.3 ± 13.3yr; body mass index = 27.9 ± 5.3 kg·m−2) wore a pedometer (SW-200) for 28 consecutive days. About 76.4% were randomly allocated to a reliability group, whereas the remainder (n = 50) comprised a confirmation group. Mean step counts calculated over the 28-d period served as the criterion. Using the reliability group, intraclass correlations (ICC) were computed for the entire 4-wk period, for 3, 2, and 1 wk, and for different combinations of any 6, 5, 4, 3, and 2 d. The reliability of the recommended time frame was tested in the confirmation group using regression analysis.

Results: In the reliability group, the ICC for any single given day was 0.41. All combinations including 6 d or more had ICC above 0.80. The inclusion of participant characteristics into a regression, alongside mean steps reported during 1 wk of monitoring, failed to strengthen the prediction. When tested in the confirmation group, there was a significant relationship between mean step counts calculated from the first week of monitoring and the criterion (adjusted R 2 = 0.91, P< 0.001).

Conclusion: It is recommended that researchers collect pedometer data over a 7-d period for a reliable estimate of monthly activity in adults. A 7-d period is recommended, as opposed to 6 d (where ICC > 0.80) because: 1) step counts are characteristically lower on a Sunday; thus, for a reliable estimate of habitual activity, Sunday activity should always be included; and 2)in the event of missing data (1 d), data collected on 6 d will remain sufficiently reliable to estimate mean monthly activity.

Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Stacy A. Clemes, Ph.D., Department of HumanSciences, Loughborough University, Leicestershire, LE11 3TU, UK; E-mail:

Submitted for publication January 2008.

Accepted for publication March 2008.

©2008The American College of Sports Medicine