FYI Daily

Would a Pedometer Get You Moving?

Last updated: May 31, 2012

Steps I took on Day Two: 32814

You've probably heard that keeping moving is a good thing. (For you and your loved ones!) Doctors often advise older patients to walk more. But telling them is one thing. More effective, it seems, is to hand over a prescription that includes a pedometer to measure the number of steps taken in a day, according to new research in the Annals of Family Medicine.

The typically recommended number of steps per day is 10,000. The average American takes barely half that many. (A 20-minute walk yields about 2,000 steps.)

Exercise for dementia and exercise for diabetes are often recommended to slow disease progress.

The new study was part of a New Zealand government program called Green Prescription, in which doctors prescribe exercise, and an exercise counselor follows up with calls to check how it's going, reports CNBC. Researchers in New Zealand and Australia added pedometers -- small devices usually worn at the waist that count the number of steps the wearer takes -- to the program. Pedometers cost around $20.

One group of sedentary 65-and-uppers got the pedometer and were told to focus on taking more steps; another was urged to spend more time being active.

One year later: The pedometer group had increased their leisure-time walking by an average of 50 minutes a week, compared with a 28-minute increase in the other group.

Both groups improved overall activity levels and blood pressure -- which means that any kind of gentle pressure to keep moving more is probably beneficial.

Image by Flickr user Glutnix, used under a Creative Commons license.