A pedometer is a device that is used to count steps taken during walking, jogging, running, stair climbing, cross-country skiing and even your movements while tending to your daily chores. Some devices calculate calories burned, steps taken and distance walked. Because steps are the primary function of a pedometer, all other added features depend on the accuracy of it's step-counting feature. Some pedometers are more accurate than others and vary in price, features and internal mechanisms. A study performed by the University of Tennessee in 2004 showed that pedometers can under- or over-estimate the number of steps taken by 25 to 45 percent. So, how do you know which pedometer to choose?
Types of Pedometers
A pedometer provides you with instant feedback, which can give you the motivation to keep walking. However, choosing the pedometer that is right for you depends on your specific needs and workout goals. Some include more features than others and require extra setup. Pedometers can be worn on your waist, wrist or ankle, or carried in your pocket, purse or bag, as long as it is held tight against your body.
Dr. David Bassett, a University of Tennessee associate professor of exercise science, performed a study on the accuracy of five different brands of electronic pedometers – Accusplit, Eddie Bauer, Freestyle Pacer, L.L. Bean and Yamax. The study involved 20 walkers over the course of three miles and was performed several times to measure distance and the effects of walking on various surfaces and speeds. “Most of the pedometers provide measurements accurate to within 10 percent. They are much more accurate than most people could estimate without a pedometer, and can give people a much better idea of how much exercise they're doing,” Bassett said.
The study determined the best brand to be the Yamax, with nearly 100 percent accuracy. The second most accurate was the Accusplit, followed by the Freestyle Pacer. However, the Pacer had the most discrepancy between distance calculated by two of the same brand. Eddie Bauer came in fourth, and the least accurate in underestimating the distance was L.L. Bean. Surface variance had little effect, while speed did cause discrepancies in accuracy. According to Bassett, some pedometers failed to account for all steps taken at a slow walking pace of two miles per hour. Faster walking speeds of three to four miles per hour recorded more accurately with most pedometers. The study consistently showed that the Yamax Digi-Walker SW-200 was more accurate in field and laboratory tests.
The Yamax Digi-Walker SW-200 is a step-only pedometer made of Japanese design with a protective cover. It is 98 to 99 percent accurate and can be used while walking, jogging, running or hiking. You clip it to your belt or waistband to measure the number of steps taken. The contents of the product includes the pedometer, manual, guide, log and battery, and comes with a one year warranty. If you are just beginning a walking regimen, this may be the best pedometer to fit your needs (see Resources section).
Multifunctional pedometers offer a variety of options for the more avid walker. Accusplit has two multifunction pedometers with 98 percent accuracy to choose from. The Accusplit AE170XLG Multi-Function Digi-Walker Pedometer features include protective case, steps, distance, stride, calories, goal setting, active time, data in English or metric, timer and large display. The product contents include pedometer with metal clip, manual, safety leash, battery and comes with a five year limited warranty. The Accusplit AE190XLG Multi-Function Digi-Walker Pedometer features include protective case, steps up to 10 million, distance, stride, calories, goal setting, active time, data in English or metric, memory, clock and large display. The product contents include pedometer with metal clip, manual, safety leash, battery and comes with a five-year limited warranty (see Resources section).
The Freestyle Pacer Pro Pedometer has multiple features that include steps, distance, calories, lap timer with interval time, auto scan mode, clock, injection molded case and durable belt clip (see Resources section).
The Eddie Bauer Pedometer measures steps, time, distance and stride-length adjustment. It is compact and clips to your belt or waistband. It also has an FM radio so you can listen to your favorite radio station while working out. It comes with personal earphones (see Resources section).
L.L. Bean has four wrist pedometers to choose from. They look just like a watch and can measure speed, distance, calories or heart rate. These are ideal for fitness walkers and runners (see Resources section).
- Pedometers USA: Yamax SW200 Step Digi-Walker Pedometer
- Pedometers USA: Accusplit AE170XLG Multi-Function Digi-Walker Pedometer
- Pedometers USA: Accusplit AE190XLG Multi-Function Digi-Walker Pedometer
- Overstock.com: FreeStyle Pacer Pro Pedometer
- Sport Club Store: Eddie Bauer Pedometer with FM Radio
- L.L. Bean: Pedometers
- National Education Association: Feel Great in '08
- Getty Images/Getty Images News/Getty Images
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