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Objective - Accelerometer

675. Normative Steps/Day and Peak Cadence Values for United States Children and Adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2005-2006

Research Article
Tiago V. Barreira, John M. Schuna, Emily F. Mire, Stephanie T. Broyles, Peter T. Katzmarzyk, William D. Johnson, Catrine Tudor-Locke
December 2014

Commentary by Hannah Tarrant, Placement Student, National Heart Foundation of Australia

It is well established that walking is a common form of physical activity that offers a convenient way to meet activity guidelines. However, walking rates in children tend to decrease during adolescence. This study provides new data on sex and age specific normative values of steps per day and peak 60-minute cadence in young people, providing useful comparative physical activity data.

The study included 2610 American young people aged between 6 and 19 years whose data was collected between 2005 and 2006. The peak 60-minute cadence represented the highest 60 minutes of accumulated steps, which were not necessarily consecutive. This data was gathered using an accelerometer and calculated by ranking each minute of accelerometer wear time based upon steps per minute values, and then calculating the mean for the highest minutes per day. The daily value was then averaged across valid days. The steps per day and 60-minute cadence were allocated into quintile-defined categories in ascending order; lowest, below average, average, above average, and highest. These groups were then stratified into 7 age groups. The data was additionally separated into sex categories.

The results show that the number of steps taken per day was inversely associated with age among both genders, though the trend was more prominent in female participants. Overall, reductions ranged between 3000 and 4500 steps per day between the first and last age categories. Male participants were able to maintain or increase their peak 60-minute cadence with increased age between 8 and 15 years of age, and reduction was not apparent until 16 years of age where it occurred in small increments. Conversely, female participants showed a more significant drop of up to 2000 steps per day between ages 10 to 13. Interestingly, although both sexes took fewer steps per day as the age categories increased, boys appear to rebound in their later adolescent years.

The study was instrumental in providing comprehensive data relating to the rates of walking activity among children and adolescents. It provides a valuable knowledge base that can be used by professionals as a point of reference for identifying the need for health interventions. The breakdown of data into age categories outlines the need to develop interventions targeted at children which is useful in developing promotional strategies to improve health behaviours that can be carried on into adult years.  

Source: The Journal of Pediatrics, 2014, Articles in Press. Access to the full article will depend on your institutional rights. Click here for the full article.