Using Step Cadence Goals to Increase Moderate-to-Vigorous-Intensity Physical Activity

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Increasing moderate-to-vigorous-intensity physical activity (MVPA) is an important public health goal. Pedometers are evidence-based devices for increasing daily activity, but studies have not evaluated the comparative efficacy of step cadence goals for increasing MVPA.


This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of three pedometer-based step goals for increasing MVPA.


Latina women (n = 180; 18–55 yr, mean body mass index = 31.1, SD = 6.5) were recruited to 12 community centers, which were randomly assigned to one of three conditions. Each group received an identical 12-wk theory-based physical activity (PA) intervention that differed only on the type of daily step goal: 1) a self-selected goal (SELF); 2) a goal of 10,000 steps per day (FREQUENCY); or 3) a goal of 3000 steps in 30 min (CADENCE). Accelerometer-based PA was measured at baseline and after 12 wk.


Adjusted multilevel pattern-mixture models using generalized estimating equations revealed that participants in the CADENCE condition engaged in similar levels of postintervention MVPA to those in the SELF and FREQUENCY goal conditions. However, MVPA of participants in the CADENCE condition was more likely to occur in bouts lasting greater than 10 consecutive minutes compared with the MVPA of participants in the SELF (P = 0.01) or FREQUENCY (P = 0001) conditions.


PA interventions should consider including a step cadence goal to help individuals accumulate bout-based MVPA and meet national PA guidelines.

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