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From the American College of Sports Medicine

Steps In The Right Direction: Pedometer Can Help Children and Teens Meet Physical Activity Goals

12,000 steps a day is appropriate target, says new study

INDIANAPOLIS - Children and teens should try to take about 12,000 steps per day in order to achieve the 60 minutes of moderate-to- vigorous physical activity (MVPA) experts say is needed for good health, says a new Canadian study.1

Many current measures of children's physical activity rely on self-reporting techniques, which often prove to be unreliable.  A study published in the May edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®,  however, suggests that a daily step count target of 12,000 stps for determining whether children and youth ages 6- to 19-years-old are meeting the current physical activity guideline of 60 minutes of daily MVPA, may be a more accurate gauge of activity level, and requires only an inexpensive pedometer to track.

The authors analyzed the relationship between daily step counts and minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in children and teens.  At 12,000 steps they found that test subjects had reached the equivalent of 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

Daily step count targets, which are frequently used as a measure of physical activity for adults, may also provide a simple way for policy makers, educators, and parents to understand and strive to incorporate physical activity in young peMom jogging with two young daughtersople's daily routines.

"Health and physical activity is of key importance to the development of children and teens, and accurate benchmarks of daily activity are needed to help the general public set goals for a healthy lifestyle," said the study's lead author, Rachel Colley, Ph.D., of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

The study, which used a nationally representative sample of Canadian children, challenges the current recommended step count recognized in Canada, which is 13,500 per day. Colley's research may indicate an inconsistency with the current national guidelines and present a more accurate choice for daily recommended activity levels. 

"Daily physical activity goals are important not only to policy makers, but also to the well-being of the general public. This study proposes a new daily goal that is easy to measure with simple equipment," said Colley. "Step counts are something that children and teens can easily monitor themselves and use to work toward personal health goals."

NOTE: For more information regarding physical activity guidelines, click here.

1. Colley RC, Janssen I, Tremblay MS.  Daily Step Target to Measure Adherence to Physical Activity Guidelines in Children.  Med & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2012; DOI: 10.1249/MSS.0b13e31823f23b1 (accessed April 30, 2012).