Simple Step to Increase Physical Activity

The benefits of physical activity for preventing Type 2 diabetes and helping manage blood glucose levels in both Type 1 and Type 2 are well known, but working up and sustaining the motivation to exercise is easier said than done. So you may be interested in new research showing that there’s a simple trick for working more movement into your day. What’s the secret? A pedometer.


Older adults are at a particularly high risk of engaging in low levels of physical activity. In an effort to evaluate approaches that could increase the amount of exercise in this population, researchers from the University of Western Sydney in Penrith, Australia, recruited 330 adults age 65 and older through the databases of their health-care providers. At the start of the study, all of the participants were deemed healthy enough to exercise, but most admitted to getting little physical activity.

The participants were randomly split into two groups: One group received pedometers to track the number of steps taken each day, while the other group did not receive pedometers. All participants were then asked to follow New Zealand’s “Green Prescription,” an initiative aimed at getting people to engage in 30 minutes of physical activity a day. Members of both groups received encouragement via regular telephone counseling sessions and from their doctors to increase the amount of walking they did.

Over the course of the yearlong study, people in both groups significantly increased their levels of physical activity, but those who had been given pedometers increased their amount of walking by nearly twice as much — 50 minutes per week for those with pedometers versus 28 minutes a week for those without pedometers. Both groups experienced improvements in blood pressure.

According to lead study author Gregory S. Kolt, PhD, pedometers enable people “to check their progress throughout the day against activity goals they had set for themselves… [and] allow users to see how much physical activity they are accumulating through their general daily routines,” increasing their motivation to stick with their walking regimens.

For more information, read the article “Need to Get Walking More? Clip on a Pedometer” or see the study in the Annals of Family Medicine. And if you’d like some extra motivation for increasing your daily step count, be sure to check out the article “Training for a Walkathon,” by professor of exercise physiology Werner Hoeger.

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  • Lisa Medors

    I am type II diabetic. I have end stage renal disease as well and I have charco foot where my bones collapsed. I have arthritis in my knees. I cannot walk any distance. I am in a wheelchair. I need to find out how to exercise in my position. I need to strengthen my core and my arms and legs. Are there specific exercises I can do.

  • Diane Fennell

    Hi Ms. Medors:

    Thanks for your comment. To learn about some types of exercise that might work for you, please check out our article “Accessible Exercise and Recreation.”

    Diane Fennell
    Web Editor

  • Deb

    The Fibromyalgia Information Foundation at has a great series of DVDs of exercise suited for people with chronic health conditions, including a seated variation for every exercise. It has helped me tremendously with my fibro and arthritis and serial metatarsal fractures.
    I am currently using a pedometer to increase my steps extremely gradually – increasing my daily steps by 50 each week, with the additional steps inserted an hour after a meal to help my blood sugar. It will take a long time to get anywhere, because I’ve been averaging 400-600 steps per day, but increasing faster just got me in worse shape.
    Good luck, Lisa.

  • linda payne

    Hi I wanted to know what is the normal glucose for a type 2 dibetic? And also what kind of excercises can I do to loose weight and belly fat and what foods are best to eat to loose weight and to control my blood sugar ..also what snacks are good. thanks Linda Payne

  • linda payne

    Hi I also want to know ways to boost my metabolism I have dibetes Iam on thyroid medication I had an over active thyroid which the doctor destroyed with radiation then put mw on thryoid medication for that I also have acid reflux and high blood pressure .what can I do to speed my metabolism ..pleas help me thank you Linda Payne

  • Patricia

    Where can one get a good pedometer? The two I’ve had were cheap, inaccurate, and ultimately broken very quickly.