Does using a pedometer help people to become more active?

South LondonMetabolic and Endocrine
Start Date: 1 Mar 2012 End Date: 28 Feb 2018

First phase of the PACE-UP trial

PACE-UP was a study carried out over two years in south-west London starting in 2013, that aimed to find out whether people (aged 45 to 75) who are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes become more active if they are given a pedometer and encouraged to walk regularly for 12 weeks.

Researchers found that this group of 1,033 adults, who did not previously do any exercise, walked more when they were given a pedometer and a physical activity diary – both with and without support from a nurse in their GP surgery.

‘If people continue to walk more and regularly, they would be expected to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around eight per cent each year,’ says Dr Tess Harris who led the research. Tess is a GP and a reader in primary care at St George’s, University of London.

Follow-up study

A follow-up study adopted by the NIHR CLAHRC South London aimed to find out whether the people who were given a pedometer and physical activity diary have continued to walk more, two years on.

The research team contacted participants of the PACE-UP trial to ask them to complete a questionnaire about their physical activity now and to wear a monitor for a week. They also carried out telephone interviews with a sample of people who are still active now and a sample of people who are no longer walking regularly to find out what problems they faced and why they stopped walking.

The findings showed that the groups who receive the intervention  - pedometer and a physical activity diary - were still doing more physical activity than those who did not receive any intervention.

Research aims

Now, the research team wants to find out how best to make this programme routinely available in GP surgeries and how to encourage people from poorer backgrounds to walk more, as well as people from ethnic minority backgrounds. These two groups were under-represented in the original PACE-UP trial and the research team aims to ensure that the study fully represents the local population in south-west London. They have also applied for further funding to develop the intervention with online resources and a mobile app.  

The follow-up study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment Programme. It was adopted by the CLAHRC South London in November 2015.

Dr Tess Harris