#GetFit: Do Pedometers Work?

You have a fitbit, or an up, or moov, or misfit, or SOMETHING to help track your steps and encourage your to take the fabled 10,000 steps. Companies around the country are giving their employees FREE fitness trackers to promote wellness (and perhaps reduce health insurance claims in the long-term?). But the question remains, does this strategy actually work?! Does counting steps encourage fitness and improve health? Before we tackle the modern fitness trackers, with heart rate monitoring, smartphone apps, frequent notifications, etc., let’s start at the beginning, with the basic pedometer.

In 2007, before the smartphone era, a group out of Stanford asked if pedometers increase physical activity and improve health. In the systematic review of 26 studies with over 2700 participants with a median age of 49, they found that the use of a pedometer increased physical activity by a statistically significant 27%! In the randomized-controlled trials, particiapnts averaged about 2500 additional steps. In observational studies, they increased their steps about 2200 above baseline. Importantly, this increase in steps per day led to a significant decrease in both BMI and systolic blood pressure! The study suggested that simple pedometers have the potential to significantly improve health. To read the full study, click here to visit the Journal of the American Medical Association.