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First-generation pedometers were mechanical devices that did one thing fairly well: they measured footsteps. Modern pedometers can do so much more, however. Today, pedometers are an integral part of many people’s exercise routines.
Data collected by digital pedometers can be used to calculate aerobic and walking distances, caloric intake and expenditure, and other advanced measurements.
But with so many of these popular step-trackers on the market, how do you decide which pedometer is right for you?
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If you’re ready to click buy, check out the matrix above for our five favorite pedometers. But if you want to know more about finding the perfect pedometer, including our expert’s tips and tricks, just keep reading.
Many people have a false idea about how much they move during a typical day. A pedometer is a useful way to gauge whether you’re doing enough to live a healthy lifestyle. These handy devices will provide you with step-count data, can estimate your total distance travelled, and will give you an idea of your daily calorie expenditure.
A pedometer’s hard data can motivate you to set, meet, and surpass daily movement goals. Concrete numbers make it more likely you’ll take the stairs over the elevator or get up from your desk during the workday.
Samantha Attard, nutrition PhD, is a consultant, coach, yoga instructor, and founder of Happy Healthy Human. Through her business, Samantha provides personalized health solutions to individuals and groups of all sizes. She also has a line of health snacks that to help individuals all over the country eat with intention. Her research has been featured in the British Medical Journal, Diabetologia, and Journal of Hypertension, among others.
If you prefer simplicity, a pedometer is the way to go. Most pedometers are basic devices that provide simple data to the user.
Many smartphones include internal sensors that keep track of steps. However, they are often inaccurate because it's not always convenient or possible to keep your cell phone close to your body at all times. A pedometer is easy to wear all day, and you won’t have to worry about missed steps.
Inconspicuous pedometers can be tucked away in your waistband, so no one else has to know you’re busy tracking your movement.
Many pedometers have better battery lives than smartwatches or smartphones
Mechanical pedometers were the first step-tracking tools on the market.
These older pedometers use a pendulum function that moves each time you move, increasing the step count on the device.
Many pedometers will only start counting your activity after you take 10 consecutive steps. This feature prevents the pedometer from counting sudden movements you might make while sitting down.
Electronic pedometers use a pendulum in addition to an electronic component. Each step is counted and displayed on an LCD screen.
These units also convert your step count into distance, which is a more relatable measurement.
Use the pedometer, set small goals, and don’t tie your eating to how many steps you’ve walked. For example, having a higher number of steps doesn’t mean you get to overeat later in the day. Follow your hunger signals more.
The newest pedometers use accelerometers to calculate the number of steps you take throughout the day.
GPS devices offer the most accurate step and movement data but are also the priciest pedometers.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Striiv Smart Pedometer
The Striiv Smart Pedometer gamifies fitness to make working out fun. Of course, it tracks your steps, but it also provides motivation by giving you challenges to complete as you walk or run your way to your goal. The pedometer has a color screen that’s touch-enabled and can even track stairs climbed. It’s also one of the most accurate devices of our top five. Some owners find they are motivated more by the social aspect of the device, while others prefer the included games.
For the most accurate step count, wear a pedometer close to your body. A slim, lightweight pedometer is the most comfortable to wear.
If you’re comfortable wearing a pedometer — or better yet, don’t even notice it on you — you’ll be more inclined to keep using it.
It’s important to think about what you’ll have on you at all times. If you swim, you’ll need a waterproof one. If you do a lot of HIIT and jumping exercises, regular clip-on ones could fall off. If you don’t have pockets, a phone pedometer might not work well.
When deciding between pedometers, take into account how open you are to learning the ins and outs of your new device.
Those who prefer to keep things simple should stick with basic models without too many bells and whistles. If you’re tech-savvy, a pedometer with a more complicated interface might be best for you.
Pedometers can be great for increasing motivation to move and stay active throughout the day, but studies have not shown that in and of themselves they lead to weight loss.
Some advanced pedometers can detect false step readings and feature modern touchscreens.
In general, pedometers are fairly inexpensive. The simplest models only provide step data. More expensive models are more durable and come with plenty of features, like automatic activity recognition and the ability to record steps for different stride lengths.
Product in Depth
Product in Depth
Omron Digital Pocket
Ease of Use
The Omron Digital Pocket is designed to provide accurate step counts no matter where it’s positioned on your body. It can be placed in a pocket and will track steps whether it’s horizontal or vertical. For the best step measurements, the device can also be clipped to the waist. Owners like the included clip attachment, which they find solid and easy to use.
Finding it hard to get in the amount of steps you want? Choose walking as your mode of transport, or park farther from the store when running errands.
Check your pedometer’s accuracy by literally taking it for a test drive. Note the step count before your ride, and after the drive see if the number has changed significantly.
Read a pedometer’s instructions carefully for where to place it on your body for the best data collection.
Q. Are pedometers accurate?
A. While pedometers do provide the user with a good general idea of his or her daily steps, the data is not always completely accurate.
Q. Where should I wear a pedometer?
A. Most pedometers come with instructions to direct you on the best placement for the specific device. Generally, clip-on style pedometers should be clipped near or around the waist area. Some devices work when placed in your pocket. However, the bumping around could lead to false readings.
Q. How many steps should I aim for in a day?
A. Many doctors and nutritionists say 10,000 steps is the magic number. However, if you're starting to count your steps and find yourself peaking at 5,000 or so, don’t despair. Work in increments to increase your goal. There’s no reason to stop at 10,000 steps either!
Q. Does the way I walk matter?
A. Yes. You’ll notice that you’ll get a different reading if you run rather than walk. Some pedometers will allow you to input your stride length and calibrate the device to your specific gait.
Q. How can I get in more steps in my day?
A. Choose the stairs when you’re heading up to your office. Take breaks in your workday to loosen up your legs. If you have a dog, take your pet for a brisk walk. A pedometer can provide you with the motivation you need to get up and get moving.
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At BestReviews, we purchase every product we review with our own funds. We never accept anything from product manufacturers. Our goal is to be 100% objective in our analysis, and we do not want to run the risk of being swayed by products provided at no cost.