Putting on Pedometer Helps Walkers Shed Pounds

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By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter
Thursday, January 24, 2008; 12:00 AM

THURSDAY, Jan. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Just by strapping on a step-counting pedometer, overweight or obese "couch potatoes" who start a daily walking regimen can expect to lose at least a modest amount of weight -- even in the absence of any special diet, new research reveals.

The review of data from nine studies found that patients who used a pedometer to track and motivate their walking achieved a loss of about a pound every 10 weeks.

"The main point is that pedometer-based walking programs are effective at getting people to walk more, and they do result in a modest amount of weight loss," said study lead author Dr. Caroline R. Richardson, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor.

"It's not a huge response, but it's not no response -- it's a modest response," added Richardson, who also serves as a research scientist in the Health Services Research and Development Center at Ann Arbor Veterans' Affairs Medical Center.

The findings are published in the January/February issue of theAnnals of Family Medicine.

Simple, inexpensive and pager-sized, pedometers are worn at the waist to automatically keep track of every step the wearer takes while walking, running, climbing, dancing, or engaging in a variety of sports.

According to experts, pedometer users may gain some flexibility as they set exercise goals -- for example, they can meet their target in a single daily outing or through several short outings spread across the day. In this way, pedometers may help encourage more people to exercise, fitness experts say.

But others question that theory.

To help settle the debate, Richardson's team analyzed data collected in nine pedometer-based walking studies conducted between 1995 and 2006.

In each study, 307 previously sedentary and overweight or obese patients were motivated to join a new walking program by using pedometers to monitor their total daily step counts.

Study size varied from 15 to 106 participants each, and almost three-quarters of the patients were women. Special diets were not included as part of the studies.

Nevertheless, the researchers found what they called "remarkably consistent" results. With the exception of those participating in one of the studies, all of the enrolled patients ended up losing a small amount of weight by each study's end.


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