A pedometer can help motivate you to move more, which will help you increase your fitness level and prevent many chronic health conditions.
The Center for Disease Control recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week. That's five 30 minute workouts a week.
We all lead busy lives; between family and work, fitting in a workout is just one more thing to add to your to do list.
What if I told you that you didn’t have to dedicate a set block of time for your walking workouts? What if you could get the same health benefits by working in a little more activity here and there throughout your day?
What if there was a fun little gadget that helped you keep track of it and motivated you to move more?
There is: it’s called a pedometer.
What is a Pedometer
A pedometer tracks how many steps you take on any given day. That 150 minutes of moderate activity works out to about 7,000-8,000 steps per day.
By counting and increasing the number of steps you take every day you can sneak in exercise in little spurts throughout the day.
Maybe you start your day by parking a little further away from the office and walking a couple hundred extra steps. Then you take a quick stroll during your lunch break. You wrap up your day by walking around the park while your kids play. And just like that you’ve gotten your exercise in without having to block out any additional time.
You will be amazed at how addicting it is to watch your step count go up on a daily and weekly basis.
What Kind of Pedometer Do I Need?
You can pick up an inexpensive model like the one below for about $15. It only measures steps. It is small enough to fit in your pocket plus it has a handy clip to attach to a belt loop, lanyard, backpack, shoe lace, etc.
More deluxe models can go for around $150 but they have significantly more features. This one tracks your steps, miles, minutes, heart rate, sleep, calories, etc.
Or you can go the free route, like me, and use your smart phone. Most models have a pedometer built in. All you need to do is download a free app and you’re good to go.
I have a Samsung, so I use the preloaded Samsung Health app linked to Map My Fitness because I like to view the data on a bigger screen.
The only drawback is it only counts steps when you are carrying your phone. I know I miss about 500 steps a day when it is in the charger or when I put it down to do weight training, so I adjust my goal accordingly.
How do you use a pedometer?
The first step is to wear it all day, or carry it if using your phone.
Start by tracking your steps for a few days and get a baseline of how much your regular activity gives you.
Set a goal to increase your number of steps by about 1,000- 2,000 a day. In a few weeks, up the goal another few thousand.
Forget About the 10,000 Steps a Day
10,000 steps a day is often touted as the ideal but, like anything related to fitness, that number is highly variable based on the weight of the person, the pace of the steps (brisk walk, running, etc.), the elevation change of the steps (flat ground versus hills or stairs) and more.
If you are curious, walking 10,000 steps a day burns approximately 2,000 to 3500 calories or the equivalent of 1 pound a week. And it is a nice round easy to remember number.
Instead, focus on increasing your average number of daily steps by a 1,000 or so every week or two. You may find yourself at 10,000 a day before long. But don't feel you need to do that from the start.
Keeping track of your steps is very motivating. Looking at your pedometer and realizing you’re 2,000 steps away from your daily goal may be just the motivation you need to head out for that after dinner stroll. And who knows, maybe getting in those steps every day will motivate you to make other positive health changes.