What is an Evidence Summary?
Key messages from scientific research that's ready to be acted on
Got It, Hide this
Step counters help reduce sedentary (sitting) time
Qui S, Cai X, Ju C, et al. Step counter use and sedentary time in adults: A meta-analysis Medicine. 2015;94:e1412.
Do step counters help reduce sedentary time among adults?
Sedentary time (time spent sitting or lying down) increases risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Adults spend more than half the time they are awake sedentary, this includes even those who meet physical activity recommendations of at least 150min/wk of moderate-to-vigorous activity.
Step counters such as pedometers and accelerometers have been promoted as a way to reduce sedentary time. However, their effectiveness is controversial – some studies report they make a big difference while others show little to no effect. Previous evidence shows that having a step goal (e.g. 10,000 steps per day) increases physical activity among step counter users but it is not known if this also reduces sedentary time.
How the review was done
This is a systematic review and meta-analysis of 15 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) published between 2008 and 2014. The studies included over 3200 participants, most of whom were overweight or obese, and physically inactive or sedentary. Half of the participants used step counters (pedometers or accelerometers) for at least 8 weeks (max was 48 weeks). Change in their sedentary time before and after the study was measured using questionnaires and/or step counters and compared to control groups who received the usual care, maintained their lifestyle, or took part in other programs not focused on physical activity or sedentary behaviour.
What the researchers found
Step counters helped to reduce sedentary time by a small but significant amount compared to the control group (-23min/day in sedentary time). People who set a step goal were even more likely to reduce their sedentary time. The authors also found that change in sedentary time was not related to age, body mass index (measurement of overweight/obesity), and amount of sedentary time or number of daily steps before using the step counters.
Step counters help to lower sedentary time by a small amount. Setting step goals helps to lower sedentary time even more. Future research is needed to measure the health benefits of reducing sedentary time.
A group that receives either no treatment or a standard treatment.
Advanced statistical methods contrasting and combining results from different studies.
Randomized controlled trials
Studies where people are assigned to one of the treatments purely by chance.
A comprehensive evaluation of the available research evidence on a particular topic.
The body's network of blood vessels. It includes the arteries, veins, and capillaries that carry blood to and from the heart.
Related Evidence Summaries
JBI Database of Systematic Reviews and Implementation Reports (2016)
JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association (2017)
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (2017)
Related Web Resources
Health Link B.C.
Being physically active can help in the management and prevention of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). Supervised, facility-based specialized exercise programs may potentially help relieve leg pain and improve walking ability in people with PAD. Unsupervised, structured home-based exercise programs are also an option. Consult with your health care provider prior to initiating any type of exercise program.
UpToDate - patient information
Pelvic floor muscles work to support the organs in the pelvis, such as the bladder and rectum. When these muscles are weakened—naturally through age, an injury, or some other contributing factor—it can result in urinary and fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic floor exercises (i.e. Kegel exercises) can help to enhance the strength of these muscles and improve symptoms.
Informed Health Online
Fitness training after a stroke can improve physical fitness and mobility, but can require a lot of effort and motivation. Examples of fitness training include Nordic walking, treadmills, or exercise bikes.
DISCLAIMER These summaries are provided for informational purposes only. They are not a substitute for advice from your own health care professional. The summaries may be reproduced for not-for-profit educational purposes only. Any other uses must be approved by the McMaster Optimal Aging Portal