Wearing a pedometer that tracks daily physical activity can motivate you to sit less, move more and perhaps shed unwanted pounds, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Indiana University found this type of intervention was particularly helpful for workers who had desk jobs. And, they noted, pedometers are also an inexpensive way to target a large number of people.
"Even if somebody works out 30 minutes a day, the fact that they're sitting and not moving for long periods of time for the rest of the day is, in and of itself, detrimental to their health and well-being, physiologically," said one of the study's researchers, Saurabh Thosar, an associate instructor at the Indiana University School of Public Health-Bloomington, in a university news release.
Four men and 22 women between 40 and 66 years old participated in the 12-week study. In order to monitor their physical activity, they wore a $30 pedometer every day, which tracked their lower leg movements.
This particular type of pedometer could be connected to a computer so that information on the amount of leg movements over time could be downloaded and viewed as a graph. The participants were instructed to download their data once a week. During the periods they showed no leg movements, they were urged to be more active. They were also emailed tips on nutrition and exercise twice a week.
Over the course of the study, the researchers found the participants were much more physically active, resulting in a mean weight drop among the men and women of nearly 2.5 pounds.
"This is a very simple intervention that can reach a large number of people at a low cost," study co-author, Jeanne Johnston, clinical associate professor in the School of Public Health's department of kinesiology, said in the news release. "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 findings were discussed at last week's annual meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine in Indianapolis. Data presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.