People who participate in a pedometer-based walking program can be expected to lose a modest amount of weight, even without changing their diet, with more weight loss the longer they stick with the program, according to a
Participants in the studies increased the distance they walked by one mile to slightly more than two miles each day. At an average pace of three miles per hour, that means the walkers were getting an additional 20 to 40 minutes of activity a day. On average, they lost 0.05 kilograms per week (about 0.11 pounds) for an average total of 1.27 kilograms (2.8 pounds) throughout the duration of the studies.
"The amount of weight loss attributable to pedometer-based walking programs is small but significant," says lead author Caroline R. Richardson, MD, assistant professor in the U-M Health System Department of Family Medicine. She notes that the analysis which appears in the new issue of Annals of Family Medicine also indicates that participants tended to lose more weight in the longer studies.
While pedometer-based walking programs are thought of as convenient and flexible for participants, there has been some question in the fitness and medical communities about the health benefits of such programs,
"The increase in physical activity can be expected to result in health benefits that are independent of weight loss,"
Another benefit, she says, is that exercise in general has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in people with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.
In all, the nine studies involved 307 participants, 73% of whom were women and 27% being men. The lengths of the studies ranged from four weeks to one year with a median of 16 weeks. All but one of the studies led to a small decrease in weight.
Over a year, the analysis suggests, participants in pedometer-based walking programs can expect to lose about five pounds. While that may only mean a two percent to three percent reduction in body weight for an overweight person,
The study also found:
· Average daily step-count increases varied from just under 2,000 steps per day to more than 4,000 steps per day across these studies. For the average person, a 2,000-step walk is approximately equal to a one-mile walk.
· The range of weight change for the nine studies was a gain of 0.3 kilograms (0.66 pounds) to a loss of 3.70 kilograms (eight pounds) with an average weight loss of 1.27 kilograms (2.8 pounds).
· Results from the nine studies were "remarkably consistent" and did not vary by the population targeted or the goal-setting strategies employed.
Further studies will be needed to determine the amount of long-term weight loss that can be expected from pedometer-based walking programs,
In addition to Richardson, authors of the study were Tiffany L. Newton, BS; Jobby J. Abraham, MBBS; and Masahito Jimbo, MD, PhD, MPH, all of the U-M Department of Family Medicine; Ananda Sen, PhD, of the U-M Center for Statistical Consultation and Research and Department of Statistics; and Ann M. Swartz, PhD, of the Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, College of Health Sciences.
Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health. The U-M Medical School Student Biomedical Research Program supported