Walking on prescription: the utility of a pedometer pack for increasing physical activity in primary care

Jane McKay, Annemarie Wright, Ruth Lowry, Kenny Steele, Gemma Ryde, Nanette Mutrie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)



This study used a multi-method approach to examine the effectiveness of a pedometer-based intervention delivered by health professionals for increasing walking.


Pedometer packs were distributed to 374 patients who undertook a 12-week walking programme. Changes in walking were assessed at three months (using self-reported step-counts [n = 139] and questionnaire data [n = 104]) and at six months (using patient questionnaire data [n = 112]). Qualitative data were collected at both time points to identify underlying mechanisms.


After 12 weeks patients had increased their step-counts by 4532 steps/day (p < .001) and at six months were achieving 2977 more steps/day (equivalent to around 30 min/day) than at baseline. Over half the patients reported achieving this target on at least 5 days/week. Qualitative data indicated that the pedometer pack was perceived to be most effective when patients were ready to change and when ongoing support was made available.


These findings support the use of pedometer-based interventions in primary care and suggest that the pedometer pack could lead to sustainable changes in walking. Further investigation, using a randomised controlled trial design, is warranted.

Practice implications

Provision of social support and accurate identification of patient readiness to change are important considerations in future implementation of the intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalPatient Education and Counseling
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • pedometer
  • primary care
  • walking
  • physical activity
  • exercise


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