Evidence-based Synthesis Program (ESP) Center
Durham VA Healthcare System
John W. Williams, Jr., MD, MHSc, Director
Download PDF:Complete White Paper
Physical activity is associated with improvement in many health conditions: obesity; reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome; some cancers; and mental health disorders. Adequate physical activity also increases the chances of living longer.1 Despite these known benefits and the well-documented evidence that physical activity is beneficial, a large proportion of adults are insufficiently active, and inactivity continues to be a significant public health concern.
Epidemiologic and observational studies have used activity monitors to characterize activity intensity and daily activity patterns across diverse samples. Pedometers have emerged as one such popular self-monitoring tool for motivating physical activity. Pedometers are small, relatively inexpensive devices worn on the body that measure each time the wearer's hips move while taking a step, using a mechanical sensor to count the number of steps walked per day. The premise is that pedometers give immediate visual feedback of cumulative step counts and increase people's awareness of their activity and how their behaviors have an effect on physical activity. Patients with diabetes, obesity, or musculoskeletal disease in particular derive significant benefits from regular physical activity, including favorable effects on blood sugar, weight control and body fat distribution, blood pressure, lipid profiles, joint swelling and pain, and psychological well-being.
Many systematic reviews have been published describing the benefits of using pedometers for these conditions. Thus the primary purpose of this paper was to provide a review of these reviews in order to evaluate the association between pedometer use, physical activity, and other key health outcomes among adults with chronic medical illnesses commonly seen in the Veteran population seeking healthcare through VA medical facilities.