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Rowlands, A. V., & Eston, R. G. (2005). Comparison of accelerometer and pedometer measures of physical activity in boys and girls, ages 8-10 years Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 76(3), 251-257.



This study examined and compared two objective measures of physical activity in children: accelerometers and pedometers. Participants were 34 children, ages 8-10, who wore both an accelerometer and pedometer in a belt around their waist for five week days and one weekend day. Parents recorded steps and reset the pedometer, and the accelerometer recorded activity counts by minute. Mean activity levels were calculated per day. T-tests and correlations were conducted to determine gender differences and relationships between pedometers and accelerometers. Results revealed that boys accrued 25% more activity than girls. Boys were engaged in MVPA at a rate of 34% higher than girls and in VPA 85% more of the time. Pedometer counts were significantly correlated with accelerometer counts (r=.90, p<.001).

Implications for Teaching:

  • Many physical educators utilize pedometers in their classes to measure student physical activity levels. These provide accurate objective measures for boys and girls ages 8-10.
  • Pedometers do not measure intensity of physical activity, so physical education teachers will not be able to gauge how hard students worked; they will only have the number of steps students took.
  • Because pedometers are more cost-effective and easy for students to understand, they are a viable choice for measuring physical activity during physical education.

Related Readings

  • Martin, J. J., & Kulinna, P. H. (2004). Self-efficacy theory and the theory of planned behavior: Teaching physically active physical education classes. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 75, 288-297.
  • Martin, J. J., Kulinna, P. H., Eklund, R., & Reed, B. (2001). Determinants of teachers’ intentions to teach physically active physical education classes. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 20, 129-143.

Submitted by Heather Erwin who is a doctoral student in Pedagogical Kinesiology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Thanks for contributing to PE Central! Posted on PEC: 11/22/05.