Pedometer Steps vs. Calories Burned

Pedometers and calorie counters are both useful fitness tools.

Pedometers and calorie counters are both useful fitness tools.

After pushing yourself through a workout, you'll want to know definitively what you accomplished. Not only is measuring the intensity of your workouts useful in making sure you're keeping things challenging enough to make a difference, but it can also be a powerful motivator, allowing you to see your improvements. Since pedometers, and calorie counters are very common measurement tools, it's worth looking more closely at the pros and cons of each.

The Benefits

Pedometers, as mentioned, count your steps. This allows you to keep a clear record of your speed and distance, which is a vital log to have -- especially for runners. Pedometers are generally small, inexpensive and designed to be worn during a run or walk. These devices can also come with numbers of added features, including built-in calorie calculators. These calculators can come in several forms, including an app on your smartphone or a watch. One of the major advantages to this approach is that it can be used during any workout, not just running.


Both tools may have issues with accuracy, though. A pedometer needs to be set to your stride length and worn according to the manufacturers instructions and, even then, can struggle if you're running to fast for it. Calorie calculators also rely on a number of individual factors for accuracy. Your weight, fitness level, age and gender can all change the amount of calories you burn. Even the weather can have an impact.

Tips for Increased Accuracy

At best, pedometers and calorie counters can give you estimations of what you've accomplished. For the most accurate results, closely follow the instructions given and make sure to provide all of the requested information. As a rule of thumb, the more information the tool asks for, the more accurate it's likely to be. Consider using both pedometers and calorie counters together so that you can compare their results and use the data to paint a larger picture of your workout.

Warnings and Considerations

While runners need to measure their speed and distance, this may not always give you a complete idea of the fitness improvements you're making. Similarly, knowing how many calories you burn can help you track your weight loss, but still only gives you a small part of the story. More personal factors, like how your clothes fit or simply how you feel, are worth noting to be sure that you're making positive changes. As always, consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

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About the Author

Jonathan Thompson is a personal trainer certified through the American Council on Exercise and has extensive experience working with clients as well as teaching. Thompson holds specializations in longevity nutrition and muscle management for runners. He began writing in 2004.

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