Determination of step rate thresholds corresponding to physical activity intensity classifications in adults

Mark Abel, James Hannon, David Mullineaux, Aaron Beighle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Background: Current recommendations call for adults to be physically active at moderate and/or vigorous intensities. Given the popularity of walking and running, the use of step rates may provide a practical and inexpensive means to evaluate ambulatory intensity. Thus, the purpose of this study was to identify step rate thresholds that correspond to various intensity classifications. Methods: Oxygen consumption was measured at rest and during 10 minute treadmill walking and running trials at 6 standardized speeds (54, 80, 107, 134, 161, and 188 m·min-1) in 9 men and 10 women (28.8 ± 6.8 yrs). Two observers counted the participants' steps at each treadmill speed. Linear and nonlinear regression analyses were used to develop prediction equations to ascertain step rate thresholds at various intensities. Results: Nonlinear regression analysis of the metabolic cost versus step rates across all treadmill speeds yielded the highest R2 values for men (R2 =.91) and women (R2 =.79). For men, the nonlinear analysis yielded 94 and 125 step·min-1 for moderate and vigorous intensities, respectively. For women, 99 and 135 step·min-1 corresponded with moderate and vigorous intensities, respectively. Conclusions: Promoting a step rate of 100 step·min-1 may serve as a practical public health recommendation to exercise at moderate intensity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-51
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Activity and Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Exercise
  • Pedometer
  • Running
  • Walking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Determination of step rate thresholds corresponding to physical activity intensity classifications in adults'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this