U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Indian Health Service: The Federal Health Program for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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Saturday, September 20, 2014

Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention - Leading the effort to treat and prevent diabetes in American Indians and Alaska Natives


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Pedometer Instructions and Calibration

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NOTE: Access to this information is not restricted; however, the information found here is intended for use by medical providers. Some videos contain graphic images. Patients should talk with their medical providers about any specific concerns.

Why is this important?

  • A regular walking routine can improve insulin sensitivity, blood lipid control and help weight loss.
  • Reliable and well-engineered step counter pedometers are reproducibly accurate and used for lower extremity physical activities involving a stepping-motion such as walking, stair-climbing, dancing, hiking, running, ball sports.
  • Pedometers are best at measuring step count, less accurate at estimating distance and least accurate at measuring caloric expenditure.
  • Pedometer step count is the usual primary outcome measure.

General Classification of pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults:

  • Under 5000 steps/day is classified as a "sedentary lifestyle index".
  • 5,000 – 7,499 steps/day (typical of daily activity, excluding sports and exercise) is considered "low active."
  • 7,500 – 9,999 (includes some exercise or walking and/or a job that requires more walking) is considered "somewhat active.”
  • 10,000 steps/day is classified as "active."*
  • More than 12,500 steps/day is classified as "highly active."
    *For those patients who have ambulatory impairment or are significantly obese, the change or improvement in daily step count may be more important than the number of steps per day.
    • For example, improving from a baseline of 3,400 steps/day to 7,500 steps per day, or doubling of daily steps, also improves cardiometabolic health.

Individual pedometer step calibration:

  • Refer to How to Convert Steps to Miles [PDF - 51KB] for instruction on how to determine an individual’s step count per mile.
  • Most adults take 1800 – 2200 steps per mile depending on leg length, height and walking style. The average is about 2000 steps per mile.

How to use a pedometer:

  • Clip the pedometer on to your belt or waistband and place over the mid-line of one of your legs or in-line over one of your feet.
  • The pedometer must fit snugly to your waist (belt, clothing or undergarment waistband).
  • For the pedometer to measure steps accurately, it must be in a vertical or very-near vertical position.
Overview How To Other Resources EHR Documentation

Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention | Phone: (505) 248-4182 | Fax: (505) 248-4188 | diabetesprogram@ihs.gov