Pedometers Actually Work to Increase Activity and Help Weight Loss

Published: August 28, 2012

A new study in the November 21, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that use of a pedometer is associated with significant increases in physical activity and significant decreases in weight (body mass index or BMI).

They found that setting a daily goal with the pedometer was very helpful. A by-product of this increased activity was weight loss.

She said average weight loss was around three pounds. "Let's not discount that. Let's put that into the context of very well-studied diet and exercise programs. With the exception of bariatric surgery, a lot of well-designed diet interventions don't result in much bigger reductions in weight. I think that the BP reduction and weight loss seen with pedometers is remarkable, given that these are small gizmos designed to increase physical activity, not reduce weight," she noted.

Dr. Bravata and colleagues looked at 26 studies with a total of 2,767 participants (eight randomized controlled trials and 18 observation studies); 85% of participants were women, and the mean age was 49 years. The mean duration of pedometer use in the studies was 18 weeks.

They found that, on average, pedometer users significantly increased their physical activity by 2,183 steps a day over baseline (p<0.0001), or by 26.9%.

An important predictor of increased physical activity was having a daily goal—such as the popular 10,000 steps per day recommendation or an individualized step goal (p=0.001). Pedometer users with a daily goal significantly increased their physical activity, whereas those who were not given a daily goal did not.

When data from all studies were combined, pedometer users significantly decreased their weight enough to move them from the obese to the overweight category.

Reference: Bravata DM, Smith-Spangler C, Sundaram V, et al. Using pedometers to increase physical activity and health. A systematic review. JAMA 2007;298:2296-2304.

Jacob Teitelbaum, MD

is one of the world's leading integrative medical authorities on fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. He is the lead author of eight research studies on their effective treatments, and has published numerous health & wellness books, including the bestseller on fibromyalgia From Fatigued to Fantastic! and The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution. His newest book (June 10, 2024) is You Can Heal From Long COVID. Dr. Teitelbaum is one of the most frequently quoted fibromyalgia experts in the world and appears often as a guest on news and talk shows nationwide including Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show, Oprah & Friends, CNN, and Fox News Health.

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