Using a pedometer may encourage exercise among seniors

Senior home care providers are always looking for new ways to motivate elders to get up and moving to help them avoid dangerous falls. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports one in three people age 65 and older is expected to fall annually. Despite the health risks, it can still be hard to encourage seniors to be more active, but a recent study has found showing them what exercising can do may be the trick to getting them moving.

To test this theory, scientists from the University of Western Sydney in Australia, looked to see if using a pedometer to measure seniors movements would encourage them to workout more. According to the study, experts recommend people take 10,000 steps each day, a 20-minute walk is approximately 2,000 steps.

During the study, researchers randomly assigned 330 sedentary people aged 65 and older to either the pedometer-based group or in a standard exercise group. The participants in the pedometer group were told to increase the amount of steps they took each day, while people in the control group were asked to increase their activity levels daily for a year. Researchers chose walking as it is a suitable exercise for elderly adults.

"Leisure walking is seen as a manageable form of physical activity for older adults, and hence should be more actively encouraged," said Gregory S. Kolt, lead author of the study.

From the data, scientists found people in the pedometer group increased their walking time by 50 minutes each week on average, while participants in the control group increased their walking time by 28 minutes per week on average. Blood pressure levels improved in people of both groups.

This data may provide information that showing an elder what their workouts amount to may increase their motivation to keep up with their exercise routines, thus living a healthier lifestyle.