Four-week pedometer-determined activity patterns in normal weight and overweight UK adults

OBJECTIVE: To assess pedometer-determined physical activity levels, and activity patterns, in a sample of free-living normal weight and overweight UK adults. DESIGN: Pedometer based 4-week observational study. PARTICIPANTS: 122 healthy participants, recruited from two regions in the UK, classified as normal weight (33 females and 26 males) or overweight (31 females and 32 males), between the age range of 18 to 65 years, completed the study. MEASUREMENTS: Daily step counts were measured using a Yamax SW-200 pedometer, and were then recorded in an activity log. Comparisons were made between activity patterns occurring over different days of the week for the normal weight and overweight groups. Measurements of height, weight and percentage body fat, by bioelectrical impedance, were taken pre and post study. RESULTS: A consistent reduction in activity was observed on a Sunday in the overweight group, and mean daily step counts accumulated on Sundays were significantly lower, by an average of 2221 steps/day, when compared with all other days of the week (all P<0.001). In comparison, no day-of-the-week effect was observed in the normal weight group. Mean step counts reported on each day of the week did not differ significantly between the two groups, with the exception of Sunday when the overweight group reported significantly fewer steps than the normal weight participants (8093 versus 10538, P<0.001). CONCLUSIONS: Activity levels dropped dramatically in the sample of overweight adults on a Sunday. Simple instructions to at-risk individuals, to increase their general activity levels on a Sunday, via general practitioners and public health messages could prove to be a subtle, but effective, strategy to tackle obesity.