Fitness: Using a Pedometer or Step Counter
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For most people, walking is an easy and low-cost way to get moving and stay fit. Using a pedometer or step counter can help you track the number of steps you take each day. Then you can set goals to take more steps and be more active.
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A pedometer is a small device that counts the number of steps you take. It is also called a step counter.
All pedometers count steps, but there are several types. Simple pedometers just count your steps. Some digital ones not only track your steps but also tell you how far you've walked in miles. Some even tell you how many calories you have burned. But these mile and calorie readings are just an estimate and may not be accurate for you.
Pedometers are most accurate for walking. They may be less accurate for running or walking uphill, because your stride changes. But over the course of a day, a pedometer gives you a good idea of how active you are.
Pedometer prices vary. Those with several features can cost $20 or more. You can buy them at most sporting goods stores or on the Internet. Look for one that is built to last, is easy to read, and comes with a clip or a strap to attach to your waistband or belt. Make sure that it is comfortable.
Before you use your pedometer, you will need to set it. The following tips may help:
Test Your Knowledge
All pedometers are the same.
It's also important just to move more. Making a point to take a few extra steps during the day can really add up. Experts say that to stay fit, it is important to be physically active for at least 2½ hours a week. Walking is one of the best things you can do to be more active. You don't have to do your walking all at once. You can split it up. It's fine to walk in spurts of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
Some people prefer to let a pedometer count how many steps they walk, rather than trying to keep track of how many minutes they walk. Then you can focus on enjoying your walks rather than on adding up minutes during the day.
Many people have a hard time remembering to exercise. Using a pedometer can remind you to exercise more. You can wear a pedometer all day to keep track of your total steps. When you go for a walking workout, you can easily see how many steps you have added to your routine. A quick check may show that you need more steps for the day. You may even find it fun to add more steps to such chores and errands as grocery shopping or returning a book to the library.
People are often surprised to see how little they actually move in a typical day. Wearing a step counter will let you see just how active you are. This may spur you to add more steps to your day. Studies show that people who used a pedometer were more likely to add about 2,000 steps to the number they walked each day before using a pedometer.1
Test Your Knowledge
Using a pedometer can help you to:
See how much you actually move in a typical day.
Add more steps to your day.
Focus on staying fit.
Make wearing your pedometer a habit. Put it on first thing in the morning as you are getting dressed. Leave it on until you go to bed. Follow these steps to get the best use out of your pedometer:
Step one: Find your activity level
Step two: Set goals
Step three: Keep moving
Test Your Knowledge
It's best to strap on a pedometer and start adding steps to your day right away.
Now that you have read this information, you are ready to start using a pedometer. For more information on how walking can help keep you healthy, see Fitness: Walking For Wellness.
Talk with your doctor
If you have questions about this information, print it out and take it with you when you visit your doctor. You may want to mark areas or make notes in the margins where you have questions.
If you want to keep track of more than your steps, some electronic devices can measure your steps and activity, can calculate the calories you use, and can even track your sleep patterns. These devices usually work with online tracking tools and applications. Some of these devices are worn on the arm. Others can be attached to your clothing.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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