A paper authored by Dr. Rachel Colley (Junior Research Chair) that was published a few months ago titled, “Daily Step Target to Measure Adherence to Physical Activity Guidelines in Children,” was recently profiled in the American College of Sports Medicine Sports Medicine Bulletin. From the bulletin:

The cost and complexity of accelerometers make their use by the general population unrealistic. A good alternative, however, is to use a pedometer to track physical activity levels. Pedometers are accessible, both in cost and interpretability, to the general population and not just fitness professionals or researchers. Individuals can use pedometers to get an objective picture of their physical activity level and may assist those wanting to track progress towards meeting the current physical activity guidelines. A common question is: “How many steps do I need?” A goal of 10,000 step counts per day has long been recognized as an appropriate target for adults. An evidence-based target that equates to current physical activity guidelines has historically not been available for children and youth.

A range of daily step count values have been proposed for children and youth; however, none were meant to equate to the guidelines per se. Previous research has shown that “typical” children accumulate between 11,000 and 13,000 steps per day. Step counts that differentiate healthy weight from overweight or obese children tend to hover around 12,000 steps per day for girls and 15,000 steps per day for boys.

In a recent methodological insight published in MSSE, we examined the step count value that equates to 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity in a large sample of Canadian children and youth. We ran the analyses separately by age and gender but in the end, the differences in target values were negligible. Thus, we proposed that a single target could be recommended: 12,000 steps per day.

Click here to read the bulletin in full.