Using pedometers as motivational tools: are goals set in steps more effective than goals set in minutes for increasing walking?

Graham Baker, Nanette Mutrie, Ruth Lowry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)
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Background Pedometers are popular devices that measure walking steps. There has been a recent surge in promoting the pedometer as a motivational tool to increase walking. However, little empirical evidence exists to support this suggestion. This study examined the effectiveness of a pedometer as a motivational tool to increase walking. 50 participants (7 men and 43 women, mean age (SD) 40.16 (8.81) years, range 25-61 years) were randomly assigned to either an intervention group who followed a four-week walking programme with goals set in steps (using an open pedometer for feedback) or a comparison group who followed an equivalent four-week walking programme with goals set in minutes. Participants had step-counts recorded at baseline, weeks 1, 2, 3, 4, and at weeks 16 and 52 for follow-up. Both groups significantly increased step-counts from baseline to week 4 with no significant difference between groups. However, a significantly greater number of participants in the intervention group (77%) compared with the comparison group (54%) achieved their week 4 goals (p=0.03). There was no significant change in step-counts from week 4 to week 16. There was a significant decrease from week 16 to week 52. In the short term, both goals set in minutes and goals set in steps using a pedometer may be effective at promoting walking. In the long term, additional support may be required to sustain increases in walking.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Health Promotion and Education
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • physical activity
  • walking
  • intervention
  • pedometer
  • goal-setting
  • sports science

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