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Pedometers Work to Improve CV Health Faster in Gastric Bypass Patients

Patients who use a pedometer to record the number of steps they take each day after gastric bypass surgery are more active and may be healthier.

Dr. John Morton, who led the study at Stanford School of Medicine in California, stated that, “We saw increased weight loss, improvements in blood pressure, and bigger improvements in HDL [high-density lipoproteins] and more activity with the pedometer.”

“The pedometer is a low-cost intervention that really increased weight loss,” Dr. Morton says.

Dr. Morton presented results from a randomized trial in which 111 Roux-en-y gastric bypass patients were assigned either to a pedometer group (n=60) or a control group (n=51).

Patients in the pedometer group increased the number of steps they took daily from an average of 3606 at baseline to 7150 after six months (p<0.01).

No such result is known for the control group because those patients didn’t have pedometers but the research team did discover that the pedometer users also burned more calories per week: an average of 171 kcal/kg compared to 124.9 kcal/kg in the control group (p<0.01).

At three months, high density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) was up 1.1% in the pedometer group but down 11.5% in the control group (p=0.02). Pedometer users also had a drop of 16.8% in triglyceride/HDL ratio, while the control group had an increase of 19.9% (p<0.01).

The extra walking tended to increase weight loss, although not to a statistically significant effect. At three months, the pedometer users had lost 55.1% of their excess weight, while the control group had lost 49.1%. In the latest results that Dr. Morton relayed by phone, at six months, the pedometer group lost 87% while the controls lost 80%.

“One other benefit is that you saw a lot of this early on,” Dr. Morton said, sooner than in those who did not use pedometers. That increased activity so soon after surgery, he says, can decrease the risk of blood clots. 

The Hawthorne effect may explain why people with pedometers walk more, Dr. Morton says. Like the workers involved in productivity experiments at the Hawthorne Works factories in the 1920s, people who know they are under study may improve their performance.

Dr. Morton stated that, “I recommend a pedometer to any patient. Walking is easy to do, you can do it anywhere and you can clearly see an advantage. ”  

Presented at the Obesity Society’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida, Oct. 3, 2011

Diabetes In Control’s partner site, Rx4BetterHealth, features “Steps to Health,” a comprehensive walking program which comes with a pedometer. Just follow this link to find out more, Steps to Health.