To Pedometer or Not to Pedometer…

Probably the best argument for wearing a pedometer is that it has a strong motivational effect. If you have a goal set for each day (such as 10,000 or more steps), and you get near the end of the day and see you only have amassed 5,000, you’re more likely to exercise at the end of the day to make up for it. Counting your steps can also be a “social activity,” if you consider that the American Diabetes Association sponsors ClubPed, an online group (www.diabetes.org/ClubPed/index.jsp) that you can join to keep track of your steps, your progress, and your step goals.

In addition, a growing, national campaign called “America on the Move” (www.americaonthemove.org) advocates a minimum increase of 2,000 steps per day for everyone and also offers a free online step tracker. Other walking programs can be accessed online, including Webwalking USA (http://walking.about.com/cs/measure/a/webwalkingusa.htm), which allows you to track your virtual progress across the United States on the 5,048-mile American Discovery Trail; AccuSplit, a pedometer manufacturer (www.accustep10000.org); and Step Tracker 2.0 (www.steptracker.com), which allows you to easily share your progress with friends, family, coworkers, and even bloggers, if you so desire.

Before you start, there are a few tips on pedometer use that you should know. For starters, if you clip a pedometer somewhere on the front of your waistband and it does not appear to be accurate, try placing it at the small of your back as some pedometers are less effective if you have extra fat around your waist. Other models can be placed in your pocket (e.g., Omron Healthcare pedometers) or attached around your knee or wrist. Pedometers can vary quite a bit when it comes to overall accuracy and performance. While you may like ones with “bells and whistles” like calorie counters and distance trackers, you’re better off with a simpler pedometer that will accurately count the number of steps you take; both calorie counts and distance trackers are often inaccurate.

You can purchase inexpensive pedometers through sporting-goods stores or order them online from various Web sites, including http://www.americaonthemove.org, http://www.accusplit.com, http://www.digiwalker.com, http://www.walk4life.com, http://www.steps-to-health.org, and http://www.pedometersusa.com. The ones that we would recommend are Omron (HJ-112), Yamax (SW-200 and 701), Sportline (330, 345, and 360 models), New Lifestyles (NL-2000), Walk4Life (LS-2525), AccuSplit Eagle 120XL, and Freestyle Pacer Pro pedometers.

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