Background: Pedometer-based recommendations for accumulating steps/d largely focus on volume, with less emphasis on intensity and fitness/health outcomes. We aim to examine this relationship.
Methods: A convenience sample (N = 70, 35 men, 32 ± 8yrs) wore a pedometer (4 days). The pedometer classified steps as "aerobic" (≥ 60 steps/minute, minimum duration of 1 minute) or "non-aerobic" (< 60 steps/minute and/or < 1 minute). Estimated maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), derived from a 12-minute submaximal step-test, and health outcomes: blood pressure (BP), body mass index (BMI), percentage body fat (%BF), and waist circumference (WC) were correlated with pedometer data. Participants were grouped according to number and intensity of steps: LOW (< 5000 steps/d), HIGH-LOW (≥ 5000 steps/d, no aerobic steps), HIGH-HIGH (≥ 5000 steps/d, including some aerobic steps). Analyses of covariance, adjusting for age, gender, and total steps/d were used to compare groups.
Results: Average steps/d was 6520 ± 2306. Total steps/d and total time spent accumulating "aerobic" steps (minutes/day) were inversely associated with %BF, BMI, WC, and systolic BP (P <.05). After adjusting for gender and total steps/d, %BF was different between all 3 groups, VO2max was different between the LOW and HIGH-HIGH groups, WC was lower in the HIGH-HIGH versus the other 2 groups (P <.03, respectively).
Conclusion: Intensity seems an important factor to consider in steps/d cut-points.