Cardiometabolic thresholds for peak 30-min cadence and steps/day

Contributing USMA Research Unit(s)

Mathematical Sciences

Publication Date

Spring 8-2-2019

Publication Title

PLoS One

Document Type



PURPOSE: To provide empirically-supported thresholds for step-based intensity (i.e., peak 30-min cadence; average of the top 30 steps/min in a day) and steps/day in relation to cardiometabolic health outcomes.

METHODS: Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis was applied to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2005-2006 accelerometer-derived step data to determine steps/day and peak 30-min cadence as risk screening values (i.e., thresholds) for fasting glucose, body mass index, waist circumference, high blood pressure, triglycerides, and HDL cholesterol. Thresholds for peak 30-min cadence and steps/day were derived that, when exceeded, classify the absence of each cardiometabolic risk factor. Additionally, logistic regression models that included the influence of age and smoking were developed using the sample weights, primary sampling units (PSUs), and stratification variables provided by the NHANES survey. Finally, a decision tree analysis was performed to delineate criteria for at-risk versus healthy populations using cadence bands.

RESULTS: Peak 30-min cadence thresholds across cardiometabolic outcomes ranged from 66-72 steps/min. Steps/day thresholds ranged from 4325-6192 steps/day. Higher thresholds were observed in men compared to women. In men, higher steps/day thresholds were observed in age ranges of 30-39, while in women, higher thresholds were observed in the age-range 50-59 years. Decision trees for classifying being at low risk for metabolic syndrome contained one risk-free leaf at higher cadence bands, specifically for any time accumulated at ≥120 steps/min.

CONCLUSIONS: Minimum thresholds representing absence of cardiometabolic risk range from 4325-6192 steps/day and 66-72 steps/min for peak 30-min cadence. Any time accumulated at ≥120 steps/min was associated with an absence of cardiometabolic risk. Although based on cross-sectional data, these thresholds represent potentially important and clinically interpretable daily physical activity goals.

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