Do low step count goals inhibit walking behavior: a randomized controlled study

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Confirmation and quantification of observed differences in goal-directed walking behavior.


Single-blind, split-half randomized trial.


Small rural university, Pennsylvania, United States.


A total of 94 able-bodied subjects (self-selected volunteer students, faculty and staff of a small university) were randomly assigned walking goals, and 53 completed the study.


Incentivized pedometer-monitored program requiring recording the step-count for 56-days into a custom-made website providing daily feedback.

Main outcome measures:

Steps logged per day.


During the first half of the study, the 5000 and 10,000 step group logged significantly different steps 7500 and 9000, respectively (P > 0.05). During the second half of the study, the 5000 and 10,000 step groups logged 7000 and 8600 steps, respectively (significance P > 0.05). The group switched from 5000 to →10,000 steps logged, 7900 steps for the first half and 9500 steps for the second half (significance P > 0.05). The group switched from 10,000 to 5000 steps logged 9700 steps for the first half and 9000 steps for the second half, which was significant (p > 0.05).


Levels of walking behavior are influenced by the goals assigned. Subjects with high goals walk more than those with low goals, even if they do not meet the assigned goal. Reducing goals from a high to low level can reduce walking behavior.

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