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Children’s Daily Step Count Can Be Used To Gauge Physical Activity Goals

INDIANAPOLIS – April 30, 2012 – Children and teens should accumulate about 12,000 steps per day to maintain a healthy physical activity level, according to a study published in the official journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Currently, many measures of children’s physical activity currently rely on self-reporting techniques which often prove to be unreliable. This study, published in the May edition of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise®, provides a daily step count target that is consistent with current physical activity guidelines, and requires only a pedometer to measure

The authors conducted a correlation analysis between daily step counts and minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity in children and teens. At 12,000 steps, the authors determined the subjects had reached the equivalent of 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity. Daily step count targets, which is frequently used as a measure of physical activity for adults, provides a simple way for policy makers, educators, and parents to understand and strive to incorporate physical activity in young people’s daily routines.

“Health and physical activity is of key importance to the development of children and teens, and accurate benchmarks of daily activity are needed to help the general public set goals for a healthy lifestyle,” said the study’s lead author, Rachel Colley, Ph.D., of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute.

The study, which used a nationally representative sample of Canadian children, challenges the current recommended step count recognized in Canada, which is 13,500 per day. Colley’s research may indicate an inconsistency with the current national guidelines and present a more accurate choice for daily recommended activity levels.

“Daily physical activity goals are important not only to policy makers, but also to the wellbeing of the general public. This study proposes a new daily goal that is easy to measure with simple equipment,” said Colley. “Step counts are something that children and teens can easily monitor themselves and use to work towards personal health goals.”
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