A steps/minute value for moderate intensity physical activity in adolescent females

Deirdre M. Harrington, Keiran P. Dowd, Catrine Tudor-Locke, Alan E. Donnelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


The number of steps/minute (i.e., cadence) that equates to moderate intensity in adolescents is not known. To that end, 31 adolescent females walked on a treadmill at 5 different speeds while wearing an ActivPAL accelerometer and oxygen uptake was recorded by indirect calorimetry. The relationship between metabolic equivalents (METs) and cadence was explored using 3 different analytical approaches. Cadence was a significant predictor of METs (r = .70; p <.001). Moderate intensity (3 METs) corresponded to 94 or 114 steps/minute based on the mixed model and ROC analysis, respectively. These two values, and a practical value of 100 steps/ minute, were cross-validated on an independent sample of 33 adolescent females during over-ground walking at 3 speeds. The sensitivity and specificity of each value correctly identifying 3 METs were 98.5% and 87.2% for 94 steps/minute, 72.9% and 98.8 for 114 steps/minute and 96.5% and 95.7% for 100 steps/minute. Compromising on a single cadence of 100 steps/minute would be a practical value that approximates moderate intensity in adolescent females and can be used for physical activity interpretation and promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)399-408
Number of pages10
JournalPediatr. Exerc. Sci.
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


  • accelerometry
  • adolescent
  • article
  • calorimetry
  • exercise test
  • female
  • human
  • jogging
  • metabolic equivalent
  • oxygen consumption
  • physiology
  • regression analysis
  • sensitivity and specificity
  • validation study
  • walking
  • Calorimetry,


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