27GPS Tracking Study Conducted on Frequent Walkers

27 Jun 2018

Surprisingly, few research studies exist that focus on frequent walkers. Derek Christie is a researcher in EPFL’s Urban Sociology Laboratory who decided to study this population for his thesis paper. He presented his ideas on April 20, 2018.

According to his findings, most people can change their lifestyle by integrating frequent walking into their routine. He discovered that nearly all participants had chosen to start walking more at the same time as another change in lifestyle. His paper shows how the use of devices like smartphone apps or pedometers often played a decisive role in a participant’s decision to walk.

Christie included 70 different participants from the Lake Geneva region to conduct his study. He investigated why these individuals choose to walk frequently, what they get out of walking and whether their behavior could help society achieve more sustainable practices. Participants found that once they started walking it quickly became routine.

Some study participants agreed to utilize a GPS tracking device to record their progress. Others only took part in the interviewing process. 48 frequent walkers were given GPS trackers to carry in their pocket. Walkers and runners often utilize technologies like smartphone apps, but recent research shows that these types of devices may not always be completely accurate. Sometimes errors are caused by the GPS signal’s speed.

The more satellite signals that your GPS device can detect, the better accuracy it will have in determining your walk distances. One study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that errors are usually under 6.2 percent, but it is still something to keep in mind if you are using older GPS devices. Advances in recent technology have improved the accuracy of these types of trackers.

A third phase of the study included 27 volunteers who agreed to have medical tests performed on them with the collaboration of the Geneva University Hospitals Health Bus.

The partnership was so successful that the Unit of Population Epidemiology in Geneva plans to extend Christie’s concept into a more ambitious study at a later time. The group hopes to determine whether frequent walking has a relationship with total cholesterol levels, blood pressure, body mass index, resting heart rate or glycemia.


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