HEALTHY LIVING
05/31/2013 10:52 am ET

Pedometer Use Linked With More Physical Activity, Less Sitting

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Those cheap pedometers that tell you how many steps you take a day really do work to get you moving, according to a new study.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, showed that using a pedometer is associated with fewer hours sitting, more time spent being active and weight loss.

"This is a very simple intervention that can reach a large number of people at a low cost," study researcher Jeanne Johnston, a clinical associate professor in the Indiana University School of Public Health's Department of Kinesiology, said in a statement. "As companies and communities develop programs to increase physical activity and positively impact health parameters such as weight, there is a need to think of the associated costs."

The study included 26 people -- 22 women and four men -- between ages 40 and 66. The study participants wore pedometers every day for 12 weeks, and also received nutrition and exercise advice emails two times a week. Researchers encouraged the participants to try to be active during the times of day when they typically weren't moving (like while watching TV, for instance).

They found that when the participants wore the pedometers, they spent more time being active and less time sitting. Plus, the average weight decreased by 2.5 pounds for each week of using the pedometers.

Because the study has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed journal, the results should be considered preliminary. But this is hardly the first time pedometers have been shown to be beneficial for health -- a 2007 study from Stanford University researchers showed that using a pedometer is linked with blood pressure and weight loss benefits, as well as increased physical activity.

"People describe them as being like little personal trainers," Catrine Tudor-Locke, an associate professor and director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, told The Los Angeles Times. "They provide ready, real-time data so you can make decisions about how you're going to spend the rest of your day and make adjustments as needed."

The pedometer used in the new study was a $30 one called Omron, but there are a multitude of options on the market today, including more expensive ones that also track things like flights of stairs climbed and sleep activity. For reviews of some fitness trackers out right now, click here.

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