Walking for exercise remains the most frequently reported leisure-time activity, likely because it is simple, inexpensive, and easily incorporated into most people’s lifestyle. Pedometers are simple, convenient, and economical tools that can be used to quantify step-determined physical activity. Few studies have attempted to define the direct relationship between dynamic changes in pedometer-determined steps/day and changes in anthropometric and clinical outcomes. Hence, the objective of this secondary analysis was to evaluate the utility of several descriptive indicators of pedometer-determined steps/day for predicting changes in anthropometric and clinical outcomes using data from a community-based walking intervention, HUB City Steps, conducted in a southern, African American population. A secondary aim was to evaluate whether treating steps/day data for implausible values affected the ability of these data to predict intervention-induced changes in clinical and anthropometric outcomes.
The data used in this secondary analysis were collected in 2010 from 269 participants in a six-month walking intervention targeting a reduction in blood pressure. Throughout the intervention, participants submitted weekly steps/day diaries based on pedometer self-monitoring. Changes (six-month minus baseline) in anthropometric (body mass index, waist circumference, percent body fat [%BF], fat mass) and clinical (blood pressure, lipids, glucose) outcomes were evaluated. Associations between steps/day indicators and changes in anthropometric and clinical outcomes were assessed using bivariate tests and multivariable linear regression analysis which controlled for demographic and baseline covariates.
Significant negative bivariate associations were observed between steps/day indicators and the majority of anthropometric and clinical outcome changes (r = -0.3 to -0.2: P < 0.05). After controlling for covariates in the regression analysis, only the relationships between steps/day indicators and changes in anthropometric (not clinical) outcomes remained significant. For example, a 1,000 steps/day increase in intervention mean steps/day resulted in a 0.1% decrease in %BF. Results for the three pedometer datasets (full, truncated, and excluded) were similar and yielded few meaningful differences in interpretation of the findings.
Several descriptive indicators of steps/day may be useful for predicting anthropometric outcome changes. Further, manipulating steps/day data to address implausible values has little overall effect on the ability to predict these anthropometric changes.