Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pedometer Use: The good, The bad and The Ugly


I've long been a proponent of pedometer use. Used correctly a pedometer can be a wonderful movement awareness tool. They're also available in a variety of price points.

A pedometer is an accurately, inaccurate fitness tool. Even the most highly rated pedometer will miss some steps and pick up extra steps. If you're a "Type A" person it might not be the tool for you.

If you find yourself counting your steps in your head and constantly checking "the thing" to see if it's picked them up and then yelling at "the thing" when it's off by 10 steps it would be best to donate it to a friend.

In order to work properly a pedometer must sit vertically at your waist. This means that it can be problematic for someone who carries a good deal of weight in their midsection. When placed at the beltline it will tend to roll forward and stop counting.

I've heard of women wearing a pedometer on their bra. In most cases this is not truly accurate - especially if you have a less sensitive pedometer or a light step. It can be beneficial if you're ok with using it to simply compare general activity trends from one day to the next.

I've also heard of people strapping pedometers onto their shoe laces. Again, this isn't the most accuate way to use a pedometer other than to monitor general activity patterns UNLESS you're a foot jiggler/tapper and then its truly useless.

Classic pedometers can vary widely in price and accuracy. I've had a $2.50 pedometer that was spot on and a $20.00 pedometer that needed a remedial math class when it came to adding up steps.  I, personally, have had good luck with Sportline Pedometers, but your mileage may vary.

When choosing a wearing location for your pedometer I suggest that you start by placing it over one hip, clear it and then take about 20 steps. Check to see how many steps it picked up. If it picked up all, most, or a few extra you're probably good to go. If not try moving it to the side a few inches or put it over the other hip and try again.

The main thing to remember about pedometer use is that it's simply a tool to help you track your "walking." It's not going to track other activities and convert them accurately to steps.

If you T-Tapp a pedometer will really only be useful with the Step Away the Inches Workout.
Wearing a pedometer during one of the other floor or standing workouts isn't going to yield any truly useful information.

A pedometer can motivate you to do more walking. If you are very sedentary I would suggest that you begin by simply doing your normal activities for 5-7 days to see what your "movement baseline" is. You can add up the days totals and divide by the number of days or just eye ball it. Once you have a baseline you can set a goal to increase your steps by 10-15%.  It's tempting to double or triple your steps right away but that increases your risk for overuse injuries. Your body needs time to adjust to this new active you!

Please note that I am only talking about a true pedometer in this post. A pedometer is a different and a more simple movement tool than a accelerometer. I'll talk about accelerometers, their value and short comings tomorrow.

Your goal for today is to break away from the day for at least a 10 minute walk break.

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