Walking may not seem like much, but this form of exercise is proven to be a great way to get in better shape. It boosts your immune system, reduces your risk for heart disease, improves your balance, trims your waistline, and strengthens your bones. Track your progress every step of the way (literally) by using a pedometer!
Pedometers aren’t going to make you look like a bodybuilder, but they do help you monitor your daily effort toward better cardiovascular health. Here’s how these devices work and why you should start using one!
What is a Pedometer?
A pedometer tracks your steps as you walk, jump, or dance. These digital counters clip to your waist or are worn around your wrist, making it easy for you to check in on your progress throughout the day.
Why is it Called a Pedometer?
The word “pedometer” is a combination of the prefix “ped,” meaning “foot” and the suffix “meter,” meaning “measure.”
Historians aren’t sure who invented the pedometer, but they do know that Leonardo da Vinci had a sketch for a similar device in his workshop. Thomas Jefferson also reportedly used a step counter during his presidency. It was Dr. Yoshiro Hatano, however, that first started selling pedometers in Japan in 1965. The brand name was “manpo-kei,” which translates to “10,000 steps meter.”
Who Uses a Pedometer?
Kids, teenagers, and adults can benefit from using a pedometer. However, these fitness trackers are best for those who are serious about their health and wellness. After all, there’s no point wearing a pedometer if you’re not going to look at it!
Pedometers are great tools for tracking your steps. The following can benefit from using one:
Nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals walk an average of 4 miles during a 12-hour shift. If you work in the medical field, you should start using a pedometer to see how many steps you get during the work day. Physical therapists can also offer these trackers to patients during rehabilitation.
Studies show that walking is a good activity for seniors. In fact, the American Senior Communities reports that this form of exercise helps reduce back pain and strengthens abdominal muscles, even if it’s just a short 20 minute walk three times a week. Do you work in an assisted living or nursing home? Start a walking club and give all the members a complementary pedometer!
Teachers and other faculty members spend a lot of time on the move. Some even clock in more than 12,500 steps during the school day. If you work in education, you should get into the habit of wearing a pedometer. You can also give them to students as part of gym classes, walkathons, or after-school sports.
Weight Loss Programs
According to Healthline, walking for just one hour every day can help you lose weight. Encourage clients in your weight loss program to start walking, especially if they’re just getting into the habit of exercising. Before long, they’ll be ready to run a marathon!
Are you a coach? Make sure your athletes are training outside of practice by giving out pedometers at the beginning of the season. You can then have check-ins to see how many steps they logged during the week. Push-ups for anyone who doesn’t reach a certain step count!
Gyms & Fitness Centers
Do you work for a gym or fitness center? Give a promotional pedometer printed with your logo to anyone who signs up for personal training sessions. You can also hand them out with each new membership.
U.S. adults who work in an office sit for a total of 6.5 to 10 hours every single day. They’re more likely to get moving if they have a pedometer attached to their bodies. It’s a physical reminder to get off the desk chair, even if it’s just for a minute or two.
Hikers visit forest preserves to enjoy the great outdoors, maybe spot some wildlife, and to get in their daily exercise. They’re sure to appreciate a lightweight pedometer they can bring along on the trails.
Do you have a job that keeps you on your feet like a waitress or barber? Start wearing a pedometer! Your mind might be blown to see how many steps you get during your shift.
Do Pedometers Help You Lose Weight?
Pedometer use is associated with significant weight loss according to the results of a study at the Stanford University School of Medicine, The same study also showed that these fitness trackers improve blood pressure and help people meet the minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity per day.
This research was conducted by Dr. Dena Bravata, and her findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Associations. The participants who wore a pedometer (a total of 2,767 people) collectively walked 2,183 steps more than those without one. This was a 27% increase in their physical activity per day! Plus, they lost weight along the way with a 0.4 decrease in body mass index.
Overall, a pedometer isn’t going to make you take a walk or go on a run, but it will hold you accountable for your daily cardio. You’re more likely to set goals if you see the numbers and feeling the device on your body reminds you to get up and start moving.
What Types of Pedometer Are There?
There are two main types of pedometer: spring-levered and piezoelectric. Spring-levered pedometers work on a vertical plane and must be perpendicular to the ground. Piezoelectric, on the other hand, contain an electrically charged crystal that reacts to any accelerated movement.
Use one of the following pedometer types!
Make a fashion statement by slipping on a pedometer watch. These step counters are worn on your wrist like a bracelet, making it easy for you to monitor your physical activity while you’re on the go.
Do you want your steps to be out of sight, out of mind? Try a waist pedometer! You can clip it to your pocket or belt before you head out the door, and check it at the end of the day.
You can access a pedometer from your smartphone! Simply download an app like Pacer, CharityMiles, or StepsApp. These apps are available on both iOS and Android, so everyone can get their steps in during the day!
If you’re a runner, you should try an ankle pedometer! These trackers not only measure steps, but can also give you accurate information about your distance, pace, and stride.
Normal pedometers won’t count the movement if you’re biking. You’ll need a special bicycle pedometer, which attaches to your handlebars to record the distance travelled.
The MapPedometer is a Google Maps feature that you can use to calculate distance before or after a run, walk, or bicycle ride. You can also see elevation graphs for inclines, and explore new routes you can take for future workouts.
Be a little fancy with a Bluetooth pedometer! These wrist pedometers connect to an app on your smartphone, allowing you to set alarms, see calories burned, and even get updates on your sleep habits.
It’s time to get creative! Pedometers printed with a custom design, whether it’s a name, monogram, clipart image, funny quote, or company logo, are great gifts or favors for live events. The customization is done using screen printing or dye sublimation.
How Does a Pedometer Work?
When you walk, dance, or jump, this causes the pedometer to interact with a lever that “ticks” off each step. You will then see this interaction displayed as steps on an LCD display.
Check out this infographic, which shows you how a pedometer works!
How a pedometer works:
- Contains a spring or piezoelectric crystal
- Must be on a vertical plane and horizontal to the ground in order to work
- Works like the pendulum on a clock, measuring each step using a lever arm
- Electronic pedometers have a circuit board fitted with the mechanical pendulum; steps are recorded in microchip
- Each time electrical circuit is opened and closed, it’s registered as a step
- Steps are displayed on an analog, or more commonly, LCD screen
In this digital age, electronic pedometers are significantly more popular than mechanical ones. You likely won’t even see mechanical pedometers for sale unless you go to an antique shop or thrift store.
Does a Pedometer Count Every Step?
No pedometer or fitness tracker is totally accurate. As a general rule, expect the device to be 10% off with distance and 30% off with calories. Research also shows that step counters work best when your pace is greater than 3 mph.
A pedometer may not count every step because it’s detecting motion in your hands or hips. So in theory, you could wave your hands around wildly or swing your hips to an upbeat song and get more “steps” as a result.
Will a Pedometer Work in Your Pocket?
A pedometer will not work as well in your pocket, purse, or clipped to your bra. It needs to be vertical to read your steps, and if it’s placed in these areas, it’s more likely to come loose or get jostled around as you’re on the move.
What is the Difference Between a Pedometer and Fitbit?
Wearable tech devices like Fitbits or Apple Watches usually have more features than standard pedometers. Pedometers only count steps, whereas wearable gadgets can play music, monitor your heart rate, track sleeping patterns, receive calls and texts, and even be used as a GPS.
Another key difference is in the price. You can buy a pedometer for $5 to $40. Wearable fitness trackers, on the other hand, have a higher price tag at about $60 to $400.
When Should You Put Your Pedometer On?
Keep your pedometer on your nightstand, and clip it on right after you get dressed in the morning. The walk to your coffee maker, bathroom, and car all count toward your daily steps.
You can wear the pedometer on your hip or wrist. Some devices are even designed to wrap around your ankle. As long as the pedometer is perpendicular to the ground, it will record a majority of the steps you take during the day.
How Many Steps Should You Get in a Day?
Most healthcare experts recommend getting 10,000 steps every day. This may seem like a high number, but you can easily achieve this goal by rewiring your brain and making a point to move around more.
Here are easy ways to get in more steps during your day!
Take a Walk at Lunch & After Dinner
Why waste your lunch break? Eat a nutritious meal, and then with your last 10 to 20 minutes, get in a short walk around the neighborhood. You can do the same after you eat dinner at home.
Walk During Hobbies
Don’t just plop on the couch with a bag of chips. Walk around while watching TV, reading, cooking, or any other hobbies you like to indulge in at the end of a busy day. You don’t have to sacrifice your free time to get in those steps!
Move During Phone Calls
There’s no reason to be stationary while you’re on the phone. Get up and pace around, whether it’s a meeting at work, a customer service call, or a quick chat with friends.
Set a Reminder
It can be tough to remember to walk, especially if you’re a remote employee. Set an alarm to go off on your phone every hour. This is your cue to get up and get moving!
Park Further Away
Even if you spend a lot of time in a car, you can still get in more steps. Just start parking further from the door, so you have to walk to get where you’re going.
Wake Up Earlier
You lose when you hit snooze! It may seem painful, but start setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier. This is plenty of time to squeeze in a quick walk before you get the day started.
Mowing the lawn, sweeping the floors, dusting shelves, vacuuming, and putting away laundry all count as physical activities. Rotate between these chores every day of the week, and you can get between 50 to 200 more steps in the day. Plus, your house will look amazing!
Take the Stairs
If you work on the top floor or are shopping at the mall, take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. You’ll get your heart rate up, while clocking in more steps on your pedometer.
Pace While Getting Ready
Walk around while you’re brushing your hair or teeth. You can also be on the move while putting on your clothes, drinking your coffee, checking emails, and packing lunches.
Walk With Friends
Instead of getting drinks at happy hour, ask your friends to meet up for a hike on a trail. You can enjoy nature and catch up, all while increasing your daily step count.
Adopt a Dog
Dog owners get an average of 2,760 more steps, or about 20 minutes more walking time than those without pets. Reach out to a local shelter to adopt an animal, or volunteer to be a dog walker a few times a week.
Play With Your Kids
Go outside to have a dance party or play tag with your kids. If you don’t have the energy, you can also take a walk as a family. Play a game as you go like the license plate game or “I Spy.” This makes it more entertaining for everyone!
Whether it’s a doctor’s appointment, picking up your kid up at soccer, or a hot Tinder date, try to arrive to places 15 to 20 minutes early so you can squeeze in a short walk. Bonus – some pedometers work as watches so you can keep track of the time!
Skip the Drive-Thru
Obviously, you should skip the drive-thru at fast food restaurants. However, get more steps by getting out of the car and going inside if you need to pick up a prescription, get money at the bank, or grab a quick cup of coffee.
Return the Shopping Cart
It’s easier to return your shopping cart to the kiosk, but if you want more steps, bring the cart all the way back to the store instead. The employees will definitely be happy about it!
Get Off Before Your Stop
Do you take public transportation to work? Get off a stop or two before you normally would, so you can walk the rest of the way back. Sure, it’s a longer commute, but it’s also healthier for you in the long run.
You don’t have to walk 100 miles when you’re first starting out. Just clip on your pedometer, try a few of these ideas, and before long, you’ll be a stepping machine!
What is the Best Pedometer?
Are you ready to buy a new pedometer? This is what you should look for while shopping:
No matter how you wear your pedometer, it’s important that it’s comfortable. Test it out at the store while you’re walking to make sure it doesn’t slip or irritate your skin.
It’s impossible to find a pedometer that’s 100% accurate, but you can definitely get close! Check online reviews to see what other consumers are saying.
Do you plan on buying a Bluetooth pedometer? It’s important that it’s compatible with your smartphone. Read the product description, or ask the sales rep before you make a purchase.
The best pedometers do not require batteries. You should shop for a model that comes with a USB charging cable, which is user-friendly and lasts you for years.
You want the pedometer to be easy to read with a bright screen and big, bold numbers. Even better, try to find one that has a backlight.
Easy to Use
While you’re probably not going to walk 999,999 steps, your pedometer should still be able to hit that milestone. The best gadgets have this step count or higher. They should also be easy to calibrate and reset.
Even if it’s raining or snowing, you may still want to walk outside. Try to find a water-resistant pedometer, so you can still track your steps in bad weather.
Let’s say you’re stuck between two different pedometers. If the price is right, spring for the one that can count steps as well as monitor your heart rate, play music, and send call, text, or email alerts.
Above all, you should buy a pedometer that’s within your budget. It’s an investment in your health and wellness, but don’t take out a second mortgage so you can afford one!
Are Pedometers Worth It?
Pedometers are only worth it if you’re going to take your physical activity into your own hands. It’s up to you to get moving!
Be honest with yourself. The pedometer is only an aide to your own personal fitness journey. Use it to track your progress and to see if you’re reaching milestones that you set for yourself ahead of time. You may not get six-pack abs out of the deal, but by walking you’ll definitely see an overall improvement in your health.
The Bottom Line
Walking with a pedometer is a great start when it comes to fitness. Pair this with better nutrition and even more intense workouts in the future, and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier lifestyle!
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