A pedometer has recently been recommended for use in physical activity interventions to motivate individuals to increase their ambulatory physical activity. Several pedometer-based intervention studies have shown that such interventions increase individuals' physical activity levels. Little research, however, has examined pedometer-based interventions in school settings. Purpose: The purpose of this study was twofold. First, the study examined the effect of a 6-week school-based pedometer intervention on children's physical activity levels, measured by step counts. Second, the study compared the number of step counts of children who participated in a group-based or individual-based step goal condition. Methods: Ninety-nine 4th-grade students' (50 boys, 49 girls) data from two schools in a medium-sized southern city were analyzed. All students attached their pedometers at the beginning of the school day. At the end of the school day, they recorded their total steps for that day. Students in the group-based condition received a step goal based on their class's average, while students in the individual-based condition received a step goal based on their own individual average. Analysis/Results: A 2 x 4 (step goal conditions x intervention period) repeated measures ANOVA was used to identify the difference in baseline, 2-, 4-, and 6-week step counts and to compare step counts between the two step goal conditions across the intervention period. A significance level was set at .05 a priori. There was a statistically significant difference in step counts across time, F = 11.489, p < .001. Children's average step counts increased from 5,454 (SD = 1,432) to 6,478 (SD = 2,053), which reflected an increase in step counts of 19%. The examination of the interaction between step goal conditions and intervention period factors revealed that there was no significant interaction effect, F = .180, p = .845. The number of step counts of children between the step goal conditions was similar at each time point. Conclusions: Overall, step counts continued to increase over the time of the 6-week intervention. Different step goal conditions produced a similar improvement in children's step counts. Findings suggest that using pedometers in school-based interventions is promising for enhancing physical activity in children. Further study is warranted to compare the relative costs and benefits associated with the use of different incentive and goal conditions.
This study was supported by an Interdisciplinary Synergy Grant (FRCAC) from the College of Graduate Studies, at Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN.