What You Need to Know Before Buying a Pedometer

Article by Matt Ream

Question: What's small, weighs about an ounce, and comes in dozens of different models? Answer: a Pedometer.

Would you have guessed it had I mentioned this item can help you lose weight, decrease your chance of diseases like hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease, and improve your overall fitness? Using a pedometer to count your steps is one of the cheapest and easiest ways available to improve your health and fitness.

The tremendous variety of pedometers available today make it difficult for people who want the health benefits of a pedometer to decide which one is right for them. There are flip-down cases versus open-face units. There are those that just count steps versus those that count steps, distance, calories and time. Some pedometers come with lights, radios, alarms, step filters, scanning, pacing, auto start/stop, memory, voice, and on and on.

The most important thing to decide is what features you need. The basics are steps, distance, calories, and time. If you're doing a 10,000 step program or something similar, you will need to know your steps. They are the foundation for all other calculations within the pedometer.

If you are interested in knowing the distance you cover in your walking or running, get a pedometer with a distance calculation (in miles or kilometers, some have both). Make sure you can set your stride length or your distance measurements will be inaccurate. When walking or running, make sure you are actually taking steps the length you entered into the pedometer.

A pedometer that measures calories burned is helpful in giving you an idea of how much energy you have expended. If you are counting calories, this can be a good way to see if you've earned that extra doughnut or not. Again, make sure you can enter your weight to get the most accurate calculation possible.

The time function comes in a variety of forms. Some pedometers will show time of day, while some have a stopwatch or countdown timer. There are units that will start and stop only when there is movement, so you don't have to start and stop a stopwatch manually.

After features, another factor will be the physical properties of the pedometer itself. What sort of case configuration will work best for you? A flip-down case means the reset, and other, buttons are protected, and you flip down the case to see your steps. An open-faced pedometer is just that, open, and you have to look upside-down at your numbers. Not bad when you are checking steps, but it can be cumbersome if you are looking at a lot of data. Some pedometers have a holster-style case where you can pull the unit off your hip and look at it.

Consider where the pedometer is manufactured. There is general agreement that the best units are made in Japan, with Taiwan a close second. Pedometers made in China are generally believed to be less accurate than Japanese or Taiwanese models.

Price is always a consideration as well. The law of “you get what you pay for” works to a certain point, but is not the only guideline you should follow. I've heard of a few people who thought their free McDonald's or Kellogg's pedometers worked well, while most of the feedback I've heard was negative. I've also seen very expensive pedometers that just weren't worth the price.

It pays to shop around and find the pedometer that will work best for you. Consider the features, the structure, and the country of origin, then factor in the price. You will end up with a pedometer that will give you motivation to keep moving throughout your life.

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