Using Pedometer to Enhance Daily Physical Activity Among University Students

Description: 

This practice engaged undergraduate students in an experiential learning activity - pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention - and encouraged them to be health educators to influence their peers to exercise daily. Participants (n=22) were required to wear a pedometer to register their daily physical activity over a week. The mean pedometer counts obtained in Day 1 and Day 7 were compared using paired t test. Results revealed that there was a general trend of improvement from Day 1 to Day 7. The mean pedometer count increased by 29.7% at Day 7 when compared to Day 1 (p = 0.003). It hints that using pedometer might be a viable method to enhance physical activity among university students. In addition, participants were eager to introduce this intervention to their peers. Therefore, the practice of enhanced daily physical activity through the use of pedometer could be spread in the university community.

Situations where this practice can be used: 
This simple intervention can be applied in school or community settings to motivate young people to increase their daily physical activity.
Background: 

This practice was used in the University of Hong Kong BSc (Exercise and Health) programme in 2013-2014.

Objectives: 

Upon completion of this pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention, the participants are able to:
• identify a method to increase daily physical activity level.
• take >10,000 steps per day which is a public health recommendation.
• introduce pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention to at least five peers.

Activities: 

A cohort of BSc (Exercise and Health) students from the University of Hong Kong participated in the study. Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire was first used to screen their suitability to do exercises. Students who had significant musculoskeletal or cardiopulmonary disorders were excluded. Written informed consent was obtained from each participant. Height and weight were measured and the body mass index was calculated.

Each participant was instructed to wear a pedometer (Ariel Premium Supplu, Inc., St. Louis, US) that counted the number of steps taken during a typical week. The pedometer was attached to the left iliac crest. Participants were instructed to wear the pedometer from the moment they got up and detached it at the end of the day, just before they went to bed (except when showering). In addition, they were encouraged to do exercises (e.g., walking and jogging) as much as possible. All participants were instructed to document the number of steps in a record form and then push the reset button at the end of each day. Physical activity per day, as denoted by the pedometer count per day, was documented for 7 days (Monday through Sunday).

Data analysis was performed using IBM SPSS 20.0. Descriptive statistics (mean ± SD) were used to describe the demographic and outcome variables. Paired t test was used to compare the mean pedometer counts obtained in Day 1 and Day 7. The significance level was set at 0.05.

Outcomes worth noting: 

All students (n = 22) were fit for exercise and joined the study. The participant characteristics are outlined in Table 1. Results revealed that there was a general trend of improvement from Day 1 to Day 7. The mean pedometer count increased by 29.7% at Day 7 when compared to Day 1 (p = 0.003) (Figure 1). Overall, the objectives of this pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention were attained. It hints that using pedometer might be a viable method to enhance physical activity among university students.

Participants' response: 

According to the participants’ feedbacks, all of them appreciated this pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention. They agreed that it was a viable method to increase physical activity to >10,000 steps per day which is a public health recommendation. Participants will act as a role model/ student educator to educate their peers on how to increase daily physical activity effectively.

How this practice supports learning: 

The BSc (Exercise and Health) students were actively involved in this experiential learning activity through which they learnt a viable method to increase physical activity level among university students. In addition, they learnt some lifelong learning skills such as research method through this practice.

Further suggestions: 

In order to achieve a more sustainable outcome, we suggested increase the duration of this pedometer-enhanced physical activity intervention to one month. Of course, supportive school/ university policy and cooperative teaching teams will be necessary for successful implementation of such intervention.

Comments

I like this programme because everyone must need to walk. This programme can aware them to do more exercise. Moreover, that is no excuse for the busy people that they no time or so tired on doing any physical activity. However, that may help some people they are always playing smartphone or ipad to have more exercise.

The pedometer is regular equipment to count our number of steps which is easily to buy or use in our daily life. I always use the pedometer to count my number of steps and over time, the pedometer counts was been propulsion of my walking. I love this program because they can helpful in promote walking in Hong Kong.

I can't agree with you more because people are not willing to do exercise. They have more excuse. However, if the pedometer can be a tool to encourage people to do more exercise, I think it can enhance their motivation in doing exercise.

It is a interesting and innovate idea! Although people are knowing that exercise everyday in very important but not much can do it and they always think that already do enough for it. The pedometer can help people to check the number of steps can make them start to aware of daily exercise and push them to have more exercise per day. I hope this health culture can promote to people widely and remind more people start to do exercise.

I agree with you, we need to buy the pedometer to count our number of steps which is easily to use in our daily life. However, I think some mobile apps can also use as a pedometer to count our number of steps. As, many people are having smartphone. It will remind you your number of steps and goals. Save the record automatically. So, people can check it and set the target more easily.

it is an interesting way to promote doing exercise, we do less exercise when we get old as we do not have time, do not have PE lesson and any other excuses. It can remind that they can do this by walking, and how to increase their walking time like reduce the use of public transport if possible.

This is a good program that can encourage student to do more exercise in the daily life, and it should be promote to more students.

I agree with you. I think the program can be promoted in some organization, not only university students. For example, many people with sedentary style. They do not have awareness to do exercise. Use pedometer can also enhance their awareness to walking in order to increase physical activities levels.

The pedometer is a good tool to calculate people to do more exercise in their daily life, it can more suggest for the elderly or the chronically ill persons, as it can reduce degradation of the foot and other diseases.

Hey guys,
Thanks for your positive feedbacks.
Have you ever thought of how to increase the participants' compliance? - Some people may 'forget' to wear the pedometers.
Shirley

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