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“ASUKI Step” pedometer intervention in university staff: rationale and design

Barbara E Ainsworth1*, Cheryl Der Ananian1, Ali Soroush234, Jenelle Walker1, Pamela Swan1, Eric Poortvliet24 and Agneta Yngve24

Author Affiliations

1 Exercise and Wellness Program, School of Nutrition and Health Promotion, Arizona State University, 500 N. 3rd Street, Phoenix, AZ 85003, USA

2 Department of Biosciences and Nutrition, Unit for Public Health Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden

3 Kermanshah University of Medical Sciences (KUMS), Kermanshah, Iran

4 Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Postbox 4, St. Olavs plass, NO-0130, Oslo, Norway

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:657  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-657

Published: 15 August 2012



We describe the study design and methods used in a 9-month pedometer-based worksite intervention called “ASUKI Step” conducted at the Karolinska Institutet (KI) in Stockholm, Sweden and Arizona State University (ASU) in the greater Phoenix area, Arizona.


“ASUKI Step” was based on the theory of social support and a quasi-experimental design was used for evaluation. Participants included 2,118 faculty, staff, and graduate students from ASU (n = 712) and KI (n = 1,406) who participated in teams of 3–4 persons. The intervention required participants to accumulate 10,000 steps each day for six months, with a 3-month follow-up period. Steps were recorded onto a study-specific website. Participants completed a website-delivered questionnaire four times to identify socio-demographic, health, psychosocial and environmental correlates of study participation. One person from each team at each university location was randomly selected to complete physical fitness testing to determine their anthropometric and cardiovascular health and to wear an accelerometer for one week. Study aims were: 1) to have a minimum of 400 employee participants from each university site reach a level of 10, 000 steps per day on at least 100 days (3.5 months) during the trial period; 2) to have 70% of the employee participants from each university site maintain two or fewer inactive days per week, defined as a level of less than 3,000 steps per day; 3) to describe the socio-demographic, psychosocial, environmental and health-related determinants of success in the intervention; and 4) to evaluate the effects of a pedometer-based walking intervention in a university setting on changes in self-perceived health and stress level, sleep patterns, anthropometric measures and fitness.

Incentives were given for compliance to the study protocol that included weekly raffles for participation prizes and a grand finale trip to Arizona or Sweden for teams with most days over 10,000 steps.


“ASUKI Step” is designed to increase the number of days employees walk 10,000 steps and to reduce the number of days employees spend being inactive. The study also evaluates the intra- and interpersonal determinants for success in the intervention and in a sub-sample of the study, changes in physical fitness and body composition during the study.

Trial registration

Current Controlled Trials NCT01537939

Physical activity; Exercise; Worksite health promotion; Physical fitness