A new pair of studies compare step counts needed to meet 1) ACSM/CDC recommendations for moderate physical activity and 2) a one-mile mark. Both studies are useful as suggested step-based guidelines for meeting physical activity recommendations.

The first study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was designed to translate ACSM/CDC public health guidelines for 30 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity into steps. Researchers at San Diego State University and Arizona State University utilized commercial pedometers on a community sample of adults. Their results support an approximate 100 step/minute recommendation for minimally moderate intensity. To meet ACSM/CDC recommendations, this equates to 3,000 steps in 30 minutes, or three daily bouts of 1,000 steps in 10 minutes.

While pedometers are useful tools to measure step counts, this team notes pedometer-derived steps should be used with caution for gauging moderate intensity walking. Step counts associated with moderate intensity walking should be individualized based on stride length and level of fitness. ACSM defines moderate intensity walking as “brisk” walking, or “walking with purpose.” Walkers should be able to talk comfortably at a moderate-intensity level, but still feel exertion. Other definitions have included a pace at which you break a sweat and/or have a slight increase in your heart rate.

“Walking is one of the easiest forms of physical activity, and one that most people can do to meet recommendations for daily exercise,” said Simon J. Marshall, Ph.D., lead author of the study. “Most people have an instinct about the length of time or the distance they walk. A pedometer can help count steps, but when you also try to walk at least 1000 steps in 10 minutes on a regular basis, you may gain significant health benefits. For inactive people, setting smaller targets can help them start a program to meet general physical activity guidelines and enhance their health and wellness.”

In the one-mile study, researchers at Boise State University wanted to determine the number of steps individuals take while walking one mile at 20 and 15-minute paces and while running the same distance at 12, 10, eight, and six-minute paces. One mile (1,609 meters) step count varies at different walking and running speeds and can be predicted based on gender, pace, and height or leg length.

The average number of steps required to run/walk a mile ranged from 1,064 steps for a six-minute-mile pace in men to 2,310 steps for a 20-minute per mile walk in women. An interesting finding is that on average, individuals took more steps while running (jogging) a 12-minute mile than while walking a 15-minute mile (1,951 vs.1,935 steps, respectively). This finding is most likely related to the smaller distance between steps that people tend to take while jogging at the slower speed (12-minute mile) compared to walking at a 15-minute per mile pace.

“A ‘mile’ appears to be universally known as a marker of distance for walkers and runners to measure their activity achievements,” said Werner Hoeger, Ed.D., FACSM, lead author. “To estimate the number of steps required to walk or run a mile at selected speeds is likely to help people who monitor their steps with a pedometer with the objective of increasing their fitness by working up the miles.”

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Article adapted by MD Sports Weblog from original press release.
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The American College of Sports Medicine is the largest sports medicine and exercise science organization in the world. More than 20,000 international, national, and regional members are dedicated to advancing and integrating scientific research to provide educational and practical applications of exercise science and sports medicine.

http://www.acsm.org

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