Make Every Step Count

19 September, 2012

Pedometers can be an inspiration. These fitness gizmos count your daily steps as you strengthen your legs, lungs, and heart. And every step, including those to and from your car, adds up -- or should. But researchers have found that so-called bargain pedometers vary wildly in reliability. To accurately log your fitness progress, spend $15 to $30. Pedometers in this price range proved most accurate in a recent study.
Inexpensive pedometers tend to overestimate the number of steps you've taken. In a new comparison study, only 25 percent of a super-cheap model called the Stepping Meter turned out to be accurate; some were off by as much as 50 percent. Brands widely recommended for their accuracy included Yamax and AccuSplit.
Once you've got a good pedometer attached to your waistband, work up to walking 10,000 steps a day, which is about 5 miles. Many corporate health plans offer 10,000 Steps programs, and they're all over the Internet as well; but if you're motivated, you can do it on your own. Just try these strategies:
  • Take walking lunches.
  • Always park in the least convenient spot.
  • Turn get-togethers with friends into walking sessions, not coffee breaks.
  • Skip elevators and escalators; take the stairs instead.
  • When there's an option, take the long way around a mall, office building, or park.
  • On weekends, if you'd rather bike, row, or swim, you can still keep counting; just convert every 10 minutes into 1,000 steps.
SOURCES: Validity of the inexpensive Stepping Meter in counting steps in free living conditions: a pilot study. De Cocker, K., Cardon, G., De Bourdeaudhuij, I., British Journal of Sports Medicine 2006 Aug;40(8):714-716.
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