Fitness: Pedometer Assignment Increases Activity Levels

Fitness: Pedometer Assignment Increases Activity Levels

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Here's a physical education assignment using pedometers that research has shown will significantly improve your students' activity levels by as much as 22%!

Provide your students with a pedometer and show them how to attach their pedometer to the side of their hip. Tell them they should wear the pedometer at all times, except when swimming, showering, sleeping or engaging in activities that prohibit their use (i.e. sports activities like basketball).

Provide them with a brief lesson on goal-setting, including ways they can improve their step-count, such as going for jogs, walking to school instead of taking the bus, etc.

At the end of every day, tell them to record the number of steps they took and to plot the results on a chart.

Continue the assignment for a week or more. The assignment is appropriate for middle school through high school students, develops basic math, chart-making and record-keeping skills and will fitness levels.

A study reported in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health showed that the act of keeping records, receiving a goal-setting lesson and displaying those results on a chart increased the step-count of junior high school students by 12% versus those who did not keep such records.

The charting was particularly effective in increasing the activity level of the girls involved in the study. The increase was 22% versus students who never looked at their pedometer counts -- which would be like having no pedometer at all.

Recording and charting results provide graphic incentive to seek out ways to increase their level of activity. And, as with runners' training journals, students often find out that their actual activity levels are lower than their perceived level of activity.

Reference: Jane M. Shimon and Linda M. Petlichkoff, "Impact of Pedometer Use and Self-Regulation Strategies on Junior High School Physical Education Students' Daily Step Counts." Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2009, 6, 178-184 © 2009 Human Kinetics, Inc.

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