Exercise as it relates to Disease/Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity Levels in Office Workers

This is a look at encouraging people to increase thier physical activity through a workplace based program. This is for an an university assignment for the University of Canberra for the unit: Health, Disease and Exercise.

The paper in question is titled Promoting physical activity in the workplace: using pedometers to increase daily activity [1]

What is the background to this research?Edit

There are many health conditions such as hypertension, stroke, obesity, diabetes and depression that can all be improved and prevented with increased physical activity.[2] Australian recommendations for exercise are; to accumulate 150 to 300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week which equates to around 30 minutes per day.[3] Despite these recommendations 60% of Australians don’t reach these recommendations.[3] Sedentary behaviour has also been linked to many health issues such as cardiometabolic disease and all-cause mortality.[4] It’s recommended that people should minimise the amount of time spent in prolonged sitting and break up long periods of sitting as often as possible.[3] Office workers are often highly sedentary and may often don’t meet recommended physical activity levels.[5] Healthy workforces have been associated with reduced absenteeism, lower accident rates and improved efficiency, as well as increased staff interaction and morale. Thus it is in the interest of workplaces to encourage physical activity and good health. The most popular form of exercise in Australia is walking.[6] Pedometers are a useful and very attainable tool that tracks the number of steps taken. The Ten Grand Steps program aimed to assist in participates meet physical activity recommendations by encouraging them to increase their walking to 10, 000 steps per day.[1] Those who take 10,000 steps per day are much more likely to have met the recommendations for 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, for this reason 10,000 steps is often used as a useful goal to more easily quantify if you have met daily activity recommendations.[7]

Where is the research from?Edit

The research was conducted by:

  • Drug and alcohol services South Australia.
  • Department of Education and Children’s Services, South Australia.[1]

What kind of research was this?Edit

This was an observational study. The Study was conducted on officer workers and compared their number of steps during a normal week and three weeks where they were encouraged to walk 10,000 steps per day.[1]

What did the research involve?Edit

The research involved 1,195 office staff from the Department of Human Services who volunteered to participate. Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire which out lined demographic information and current physical activity levels. Participants recorded their number of steps for each day over a four week period. In the first week of the study, participants were asked to maintain their normal walking levels in order to provide an indicator of their usual activity. Over the following weeks the participants were encouraged to meet 10,000 steps per day. Three months after the program participants were sent a follow up questionnaire where they outlined if they had maintained their physical activity levels from the program.[1]

What were the basic results?Edit

Overall there was a 10% increase in the number of steps taken in last week of the program when compared to first week and around 70% increased their daily steps over the course of the program. 38% of participant’s achieved the goal of walking 10,000 steps per day during the final week, this was an increase of 52% of the number who achieved 10,000 steps during the first week. Of those who started with less than 5,000 steps per day on average they increased their steps per day by 53%, of those between 5,000 to 7,000 they increased their steps per day by around 18%. 63% of participants claimed that they had maintained or increased their level of walking from the program. Approximately two-thirds of participants reported that they had made changed to incorporated walking or other activity post the program.[1]

What conclusions can we take from this research?Edit

Pedometers are a relatively inexpensive and easy to use device that can help people track their physical activity. This study indicated initiating a workplace physical activity program based upon targeting 10,000 steps per day can be an effective method of encouraging a large number of participants to increase their daily physical activity to meet recommendations. Benefits of a program like this are that it is able to attract, those who don’t generally engage in physical activity, it promotes incidental exercise, it requires no expertise to undertake and can easily be maintained over a period of time. Whist the program may not be overly effective in getting a majority of people to meet 10,000 steps per day, it is able to get participants particular those with low activity levels to engage in more physical activity and think more about how they can incorporate activity in their daily life.

Practical adviceEdit

A pedometer is a cheap and easy method of monitoring your daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly exercise habits. Pedometers combined with a step target can be particularly useful for those who don’t generally engage in exercise, as it is allows them to conduct small bits walking throughout the day and doesn’t involve higher intensity exercise such as running or cycling. This method encourages incidental exercise such as using the stairs, parking further away from work and walking to the shops, these are relativity easy things people can incorporate into their daily routines to help increase their activity levels and reduce sedentary time.

Further information/resourcesEdit


  1. a b c d e f Thomas L, Williams M. Promoting physical activity in the workplace: using pedometers to increase daily activity. Health Promotion Journal of Australia [internet] 2006 [cited 2016 Sept 26]; 17 (2) Available From levelshttp://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.canberra.edu.au/fullText;dn=453085996918546;res=IELHEA
  2. Warburton D.E.R, Nicol C.W, Bredin S.S.D. Health benefits of physical activity: the evidence. Canadian Medical Association Journal [internet].March 2006 [cited 2016 Sept 20]; 174(6) Available From http://www.dr-walser.ch/benefit%20durch%20bewegung!.htm
  3. a b c Australia's Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines [internet] Canberra, Australia. Department of Health [updated 2014, cited 2016 Sept 20 ] Available From http://www.health.gov.au/internet/main/publishing.nsf/content/health-pubhlth-strateg-phys-act-guidelines#apaadult
  4. Owen N, Sparling P.B, Healy G.N, Dunstan D.W Matthews C.E. Sedentary Behaviour: Emerging Evidence For a New Health Risk. Mayo Clinic Proceedings [internet] December 2010 [cited 2016 Sept 20]; 85(12): 1138-1142 Available From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996155/
  5. Thorp A.A, Healy G.N, Winkler E, Clark B.K, Gardiner P.A, Owen N, Dunstan D.W. Prolonged sedentary time and physical activity in workplace and non-work contexts: a cross-sectional study of office, customer service and call center employee. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity [internet] 2012 [cited 2016 Sept 20]; DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-128 Available From http://ijbnpa.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1479-5868-9-128
  6. Armstrong T, Bauman A, Davies J. Physical Activity Pallems of Australian Adults. Results of the 1999 National Physical Activity Survey. Canberra (AUST): Australian Institute for Health and Welfare [internet]; 2000 [cited 2016 Sept 26]; Available From http://aihw.gov.au/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=6442454841
  7. Le Masurier G, Sidman C, Corbin C. Accumulating 10,000 Steps: Does this meet current physical activity guidelines? Res Q Exerc Sport [internet]. [cited 2016 Sept 26]; 2003 ;74(4):35,89-94. Available From http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14768840