By Lynn Difley
Now I have to admit I’m not much of a gadget person, not quite a Luddite, but I have my suspicions about anything with wires, gears, or encased parts. But here’s one I love and I highly recommend to everyone, gadget lover or no.
A pedometer is a nifty little gadget that counts your footsteps by sensing your movements. You can pay as little as a few dollars, or a lot more, and sometimes they are given away as promotional items. What a great deal.
Pedometers measure distance and speed, or calorie expenditure, may have a stop watch, a heart rate monitor, count steps per minute, and some even have GPS features and computer uploading capacity. You can go as high or low tech as you like. A pedometer can become addictive as you learn to use it. A pedometer senses your body motion and counts your footsteps. This count is converted into distance by knowing the length of your usual stride. Wearing a pedometer and recording your daily steps and distance is a great motivating tool. You can wear a pedometer all day, every day, and record total steps. Or you can wear it just when you go out for a walking workout.
All pedometers count steps, although they may use different methods to do so.
The simplest pedometers only count your steps and display steps and/or distance. This is all you need to track to keep yourself motivated. Set a goal of distance or steps for each day. The recommended number of steps is 6000 for health, 10,000 for weight loss when you count all steps during the day. For weight loss, an uninterrupted walk each day of 4000-6000 steps is recommended.
Your pedometer should be accurate, and experimentation will help you decide where to wear it for best accuracy. Read the instructions to set the pedometer to your individual stride length–to be sure it accurately measures your distance. Distance accuracy depends on setting your stride length correctly. A pedometer should be comfortable to wear all day and be held securely by its clip which is fastened to your waistband or belt. The display should be easy to read without removing the unit from your waistband. It should be protected so that bumps don’t punch a button and reset the count. It should be easy and intuitive to move between functions.
The many functions that pedometers include are a matter of personal preference; you can spend more and get more features, or find a bargain and be happy with your basic step and distance counter.
Keeping records of your daily steps and distance can be a big motivator. Write down the daily totals and set goals to keep you going. Pedometers have been shown in clinical studies to increase daily activity, and in so doing, reduce blood pressure and body mass. The pedometer can improve your health in all the ways that increasing physical activity is of benefit.
If you have a competitive streak in you, you may find yourself setting up contests to further motivate you to get walking. How about a bet with family members–most steps gets a pass on washing dishes or other mealtime chores. Or keep yourself as your chief contestant. Try every day to increase the total steps taken; you can keep this up for some time, if you keep the increments modest. Who knows you may end up walking a super endurance marathon!

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  2. Wearing a pedometer doesn’t change my life style, but I bought one because I was curious about how far I was walking while cutting the lawn. Our summer place is 1/4 acre, and I walk 2.3 miles while following the self-propelled lawn mower. No wonder I was getting tired when I took care of the lawn and kayaked up to 7 miles the same day! I changed my schedule and don’t do them both on the same day anymore.

  3. eric

    For an added challenge, if you are the competitive type, you can join There you can enter your daily steps and other information.

    You can set goals such as walking from Washington to LA, or LA to New York… or even “Walking to the moon”! (Though I think you do THAT walk in conjunction with a team).

    It’s a great way to motivate!