Just in time for the holiday season and celebratory meals, Stanford University researchers have concluded that using pedometers gets people walking -- and they become more active generally.
Pedometers are small devices that attach to a belt or clothing and count the number of steps a person takes.
Increased walking helps lose weight, lower blood pressure and boost energy.
"Much to my surprise, these little devices were shown to increase physical activity by just over 2,000 steps, or about one mile of walking per day," Dena Bravata, a Stanford research physician, said.
"This goes a long way toward helping people meet the national guidelines for daily physical activity," he said.
Bravata and her colleagues reviewed more than 2,000 articles and found 26 studies that used pedometers. A total of 2,767 people participated in those studies. Most were overweight women who were relatively inactive before they started a walking program.
The nonprofit group Shape Up America, headed by former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, recommends that adults walk 10,000 steps each day -- a goal reflected in Palo Alto's "Step It Up!" program in recent months.