With the increase of global obesity problem, people are becoming more and more aware of the importance of being healthy and staying active. In spite of that, many of us chose not to get regular exercise, as we make many excuses like: ‘I do not have the time’, ‘just got better after an illness’, ‘it is way too difficult’, ‘I’m too old to start exercising now’, and many more.

Luckily for us, there is a simple gadget called a pedometer, which can easily help us improve our fitness, cardiac health, and overall wellbeing. If you think that this must be expensive, you are wrong. Pedometers are highly available and can be purchased at any fitness equipment store (their price varies according to performance), and, you can also download an app on your smartphone and have a pedometer right now without any additional expenses.

Different types work differently

The early pedometers were mechanical and were characterized by a clicking sound that a lever inside the mechanism made when going side to side counting steps. You can still buy them although they have been largely disregarded in favour of electronic pedometers. The electronic pedometers operate on battery and do not make the clicking sound. The more sophisticated versions use the accelerometer to count your steps.

There are many versions of a pedometer aside from the one that can be installed in your smartphone. You can wear it on your wrist, a shoe, on your belt or in a bag or a pocket.

Some pedometers only count your steps while others can measure the distance you walked/ran during one day, the time you spend active, calories you spent, your heart rate even (although this last one usually requires an additional gadget).

How do you use a pedometer?

As we already said, a pedometer counts your steps. To adjust your pedometer to be as precise as it can be, you need to adjust your stride length. How do you do that?

You can do it by measuring the distance between heels when you are walkin; however, since you are consciously making the movements, the stride can be longer than usual. The other, more accurate option is to make 10 steps then measure the distance you have passed and divide it by 10. There is your stride length.

Majority of pedometers will ask you to set the device’s sensitivity. This is important as extremely sensitive pedometers pick up movements you make when you are not walking, like bending over to reach for something or even driving in your car.

When is it good to increase the sensitivity of your pedometer? For example, elderly people swing less from side to side when they are walking than younger individuals, so their pedometer should be set up on the most sensitive mode.

You can measure your pedometer’s sensitivity and accuracy by turning it on then walking a hundred steps without looking at it – just count them yourself. Then, check to see how many have been counted on your pedometer. The most accurate pedometers can have about 5% accuracy (so 95, or 105 steps should be counted), a 10% discrepancy is still considered relatively accurate.

All of the pedometers work best if they are placed on your waist or your hips because this is where they best detect the side-to-side movement of your body. Because of that, many of the devices come with a strap or a clip that makes it possible to attach to your clothes without coming off.
Some of the pedometers, especially those functioning on sophisticated technology such as accelerometers and other types of sensors, can be worn as a watch or anywhere on your person.

If you do decide to wear your step tracker on your waist, attach it in line with the vertical middle of your thigh, above your knee since this is where the tilt is most pronounced.

With the help of GPS or a Satellite, some pedometers determine the distance you have walked during the day. If you are required to put in information about your sex or age, it is probable that the software will calculate the average (for that age group and sex) calories you spend walking.

How many steps should you take?

Doctors advise that a healthy adult should strive for 10000 steps a day. This does not apply to the elderly, people recovering from an illness, and teenagers. If you are taking less than 3000 steps a day, you are generally considered inactive.

A pedometer can help you observe your activity and motivate you to better your score each day. Some pedometer apps have a competitive community, so you can compare yourself to others in your age group, while others offer fun ‘Achievement Badges’ you get upon making an achievement, e.g. ‘walk 5000 steps 5 days in a row’.

What you should remember, especially if you have been inactive for any reason, is that, like any activity, increasing your step count should also be done gradually. Start small. For example:

• Get off a bus a station early
• Take the stairs instead of the elevator
• March in place while you are doing the dishes
• Go out for a walk with your partner, a friend, or a dog
• Make a trip to the bin for each garbage bag
• Do anything that works for you

Follow these simple advice, and you will soon notice that the small changes to your lifestyle drastically improve your step count, and with it your overall health condition

About the Author James S

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