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Primary care pedometer trial boosted activity in older adults

Pedometer usage can boost activity levels in the over-45s by up to a third, even if patients are not directly supported by a clinician, a primary care-based trial has revealed.

A study led by St George’s University in London found that a pedometer-based walking intervention in largely inactive 45- to 75-year-olds, identified in primary care, increased their levels of moderately vigorous physical activity by around a third, and their step-counts by about one-tenth.

Their report, published in PLOS Medicine, suggests that a primary care pedometer intervention delivered by post or with minimal support could help address the public health physical inactivity challenge.

In all, 1,023 inactive 45- to 75-year-olds from seven GP practices in London were randomly allocated to either a usual physical activity control group or to one of two intervention groups.

The postal group were sent a pedometer, a physical activity diary and instructions for a 12-week walking program to add in 3,000 steps or a three-minute walk on five or more days weekly; while the nurse group received these materials through practice nurse physical activity consultations.

The study concluded: 'Both intervention groups significantly increased their walking from baseline to 12 [months] (step-counts increased by about 10% and time in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity increased by about one-third) compared to controls, with similar effect sizes for nurse and postal groups.'

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