CANPLAY Pedometer Normative Reference Data for 21,271 Children and 12,956 Adolescents


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2013 - Volume 45 - Issue 1 - p 123–129
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e31826a0f3a

Purpose: The mean expected values of pedometer-determined steps per day for children and adolescents have been derived primarily from isolated studies on small or specific populations. The purpose of this study is to provide sex- and age-specific normative values so that researchers, clinicians/practitioners, other childcare workers, and families can compare children’s and adolescents’ pedometer-determined data to that of their peers.

Methods: Data were collected between 2005 and 2011 on 21,271 children 5–12 yr and 12,956 adolescents 13–19 yr. Participants were recruited by telephone, logged their pedometer-determined steps per day for 7 d, and mailed back their logs. Normative data were provided in three formats: 1) mean steps per day by single-year age by sex; 2) increments of 5 percentile values for each single-year age by sex, smoothed within and across years; and 3) quintiles (in ascending order: lowest, lower than average, average, higher than average, and highest) for four combined age groups (5–7, 8–10, 11–14, and 15–19 yr) stratified by sex.

Results: Mean steps per day increased from 11,602 steps per day among 5-yr-olds to a sample peak mean value of 12,348 steps per day among 10-yr-olds, and then declined to 9778–10,073 among 15- to 19-yr-olds. Although not significantly different among 19-yr-olds, mean steps per day were higher among boys than girls at every age.

Conclusions: CANPLAY data represent the largest and most comprehensive set of sex- and age-specific normative reference data for children’s and adolescents’ pedometer-determined physical activity to date. A clear assemblage of such values is fundamental for surveillance, screening, comparison purposes, planning strategies, prioritizing efforts and distributing resources, evaluating intervention effects, and tracking change.

1Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, Ottawa, ON CANADA; 2School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, AUSTRALIA; and 3Walking Behavior Laboratory, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA

Address for correspondence: Cora Lynn Craig, M.Sc., 201-185 Somerset St. W, Ottawa, Ontario K2P 0J2, Canada; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2012.

Accepted for publication July 2012.

©2013The American College of Sports Medicine