Choosing A Pedometer to Lose Weight

Resolution time is upon us once again. So dust off those pedometers, we’re off to get some fit-inducing walks underway. Just by wearing your pedometer again and observing your daily steps and distance traveled will be motivational. I suggest if you are just starting out in your trek to better health, you wear it all day long for at least two weeks and journal your daily count. Once you have some new habits in place, you can wear your pedometer just for walking workouts.

If you don’t own a pedometer, or have never used one in the past, you might need a little guidance to choose the best one for your personality type, your needs, and your interest in fitness. At the most basic level, a pedometer will sense your body’s movement and count every step you take. Technology has taken this small device to do so much more though.

Once the steps are racking up, a pedometer will next convert those steps into distance traveled. It does so by learning the length of your stride. To do so you must program the pedometer to your average step (stride) length. Each model varies so you’ll have to read the instruction manual to get this accurately.

Here is a little explanation though to make sense of the measurement. Step lengths and stride lengths are often referred to as the same thing but in some cases they are different. Your step length is the distance from your heel print of one foot to the heel print of the other foot. Stride length is measured similarly by many pedometers but some explain it as the heel print of one foot to the next time that same foot imprints. Really this is a stride length of two steps, since the other foot has already touched down once.

Sometimes you can come across a fairly accurate guess-timate of stride length based on your height. For women the equation is your height x .413. For men the equation is your height x .415. This never worked for me but I have a longer than average inseam.

Enter the Multi-function Pedometer

Although all pedometers will count steps, there are others that record calories burned as well as estimating your speed and measuring pulse rate. Some will even tell you how much fat you burned and sync with your laptop or Iphone to chart your progress. If you like features in your gadgets get the best pedometer you can afford because all those charts, graphs and measurements will keep you motivated, I promise!

One of the newest features in pedometers are those that track both speed and distance. These devices use GPS technology which, when coupled with software to upload to your PC or online journals, is a lot of fun. Nike has even launched a foot pod that is embedded into your training shoes which also is stored online at their website.

Just the Basics Please – the Simple Step Counter

On the other hand, if simplicity is your game, the most basic yet accurate pedometer will be your goal. As for the numbers, you want to increase the count daily with a starting set (for the over 30 crowd) of 7000 for weight and health maintenance; 10,000-12,000 for weight loss and fitness; and 15,000 for athletic training.

How to Tell If Your Pedometer is Accurate

Accuracy becomes an obsession once you’ve owned a pedometer for a while. Dependent on your model of choice you may find that just wearing the pedometer in a different location may chance the accuracy of steps counted, or if you’re more concerned about distance traveled you may have to adjust your stride settings. Pedometers should be comfortable enough to wear all day – some will even count steps from your handbag or purse – but I prefer to wear mine on my hip with a safety leash. Safety leashes ensure your pedometer isn’t lost as you’ll soon find that you come to rely on the little gadget.

A great way to double check your pedometer for accuracy is to visit Google Maps: Pedometer. Just go there and chart your route, then compare the results with your own pedometer’s count.

Get Walking With Your New Pedometer

Keeping records for two weeks of your steps and distance keeps you motivated and here’s why. Every day you see that you’ve taken more steps than the day before and start to look for more ways to increase your step count. Walking up a flight of stairs, walking part way home, parking away from the grocery store are just three examples.

So let’s get busy walking shall we? I’ll walk with you, in my own little town and we’ll grow stronger, fitter and leaner every day. Even just the simplest little pedometer starting with just 5,000 steps a day is a great start – I know you’ll find it to be both motivational and addictive once you see the changes in your health and fitness level.

Wait! Before You Buy That Pedometer, Consider This…

A Pedometer Only Needs to Be Walked and Will Make You Thinner and HealthierEverything you have heard is true! A pedometer is not much more than a small, lightweight device that counts your steps. They come in many different shapes and colors and some have a few fancy features but basically their ‘job’ is to count your steps. However, this seemingly insignificant device is so much more than a step counter. It is a fitness coach, a motivator and a tool to help you achieve new goals in your overall health.

Tall order, yes? If you purchase a pedometer and become comfortable with the available features of your model, it will pay you back with a longer life and a healthier lifestyle. All you have to do in return is take it out for a walk every day.

All tongue-in-cheek kidding aside, there are variety of pedometer models. Some flip-down and some are open face. Some count calories along with steps, others count distance traveled. Some come with an FM radio receiver, some play MP3s and others calculate your desired length of exercise with your current heart rate – and then change the music based on tempo to keep you moving.

Before choosing your pedometer you want to know what type of exercise routine you’ll be engaging in. Truly the most popular for those just getting back to being fit is a walking program that includes 10000 steps a day to start. After that you’ll be increasing your steps per day so be sure to get a pedometer with a memory of at least 7 days or one that allows you to upload your week’s workouts and walks to your computer via a USB cord. Sound fancy and expensive? These models are certainly fancy but they aren’t expensive. In fact you can find them right here on Pedometers.org for less than $40.

Another feature I love on my pedometer is the calorie burned counter. This usually prevents me from excusing myself of a second portion by telling myself that I walked an extra 200 steps. The numbers just won’t add up and if I’m not careful I’ll end up putting all that weight back on that I worked so hard to lose. The calorie counting pedometer keeps you honest with yourself – no excuses.

Walking Your Way Back to Health with A Pedometer

MP3 Pedometer: Walk With A Furry FriendSo you’ve decided that this is the year you’re going to get in shape and stay in shape, yes? Here at Pedometers.org we want to work with you to keep you on track with your fitness goals. We have a lot of exciting developments planned over the next year and we’d like you to be part of our online family.

Even if the pedometer you are using is an older or simple monitor you can still walk with us – virtually – and meet those fitness goals. If you don’t have a pedometer yet and you’re sticking to budget with your back-into-shape regime, grab a simple step counter and let’s get moving!

In the end you don’t really need to track every mile you walk or every calorie you burn. As long as you are in relatively good health you also won’t need to worry about your heart rate or any of the other special features that many modern pedometers offer. However, with that said, if you’re walking alone you might like to have an MP3 capable pedometer so you can listen to your favorite music, podcasts or motivational tracks while you walk. It’s a great way to work out.

There are but a few basics to getting back into shape with a pedometer. First of all – unless you have a model that supports pocket or purse tracking, you’ll want to remember to always place your pedometer on your waist or hips for precise measurement and accurate step counts. The best place is directly above your hip bone so if you’re wearing a low-riding pant you may need to clip the pedometer on the bottom of a tight fitting shirt to get an accurate reading.

Next you’ll need to find some time to walk every day. This could be a morning walk with the dog, an after dinner walk around the block or, if the weather is terrible, just walking in place during the evening news or your favorite television show. Whatever you decide to do you’ll want your first goal to be taking 10,000 steps per day to get started. If you are carrying a lot of extra weight right now you can work out a plan for yourself to build up to that over the first or second week.

I know that 10,000 steps sounds like a lot but hear me out. On average the Monday to Friday,9-5 desk employee walks just under 2000 steps a day just going about normal activity. If this is your lifestyle you really only need to find an extra 8,000 steps more per day. On another post you’ll find some easy suggestions to incorporate more steps into your day – decreasing the time needed to meet your goal by day’s end.

If you will be working your way up to 10,000 steps per day please do it slowly. In fact you might want to speak to your doctor about your plans before you begin a walking regime. We are not doctors at Pedometers.org and have no idea of your current physical condition.

If you’ll be meeting your initial goal by walking outside you’ll need a good pair of sneakers or running shoes. Again, if you’re on a tight budget you might consider purchasing a pair of orthotic insoles as inserts into an older pair of running shoes you own. You will appreciate the extra support and shock absorbing value of a good shoe or insole after your first few walks. Furthermore either will help you keep your balance and support your joints while you walk yourself fit.

So, are you ready? Great! Let’s get walking….

For the first few days we suggest wearing your pedometer all day while you go about your daily business. At the end of each day write down the number of steps you already take to see if you fit into the ‘normal’ range. Our normal or average is about 2,000 per day just walking around the office, to lunch and to the car. However you may not park as far away from the office as we do or need to hand deliver messages and letters to co-workers. The point is, everyone is different.

Keeping in mind that your first goal is to walk a total of 10,000 steps per day increase your daily average by 1,000 to 2,000 steps per day until you are consistently and easily finishing the day at your goal.

To give you an idea of what is ahead for you, 10,000 steps per day helps the average person maintain their current weight given no other changes. 15,000 gets you moving towards losing weight.

The reason we start out at 10,000 is because you’ll be building muscle tone in the beginning and muscle tone increases your metabolism making your body more efficient at burning fat and losing weight (among other benefits).

If your primary goal is to loose weight it is in the third week or so that you might want to start weighing yourself regularly and keeping an eye on your food intake for high value foods. Remember food is fuel for the body and you’ll want to cut back on all the unhealthy diet choices to aid your body into efficient operation. Keep your journal updated with your healthy choices, the number of steps taken from your pedometer each evening and your weight. Just don’t get too hung up on the actual weight reading – muscle weighs more than fat and you’ll be building muscle during this process. If you are really concerned about your weight or size purchase a fat loss monitor (see the top of the page for a link to our review) for less than $40. They are as handy and as inspirational to have as a personal use pedometer.

You’re probably wondering what happens after 10,000 or 15,000 steps per day. Once you have reached your weight or fitness goal and are ready to increase your aerobic exercise to stay fit, gain better health overall or to support your heart.

Most doctors and fitness experts will caution to not be in a rush to take it to the next level and we agree. Keep wearing your pedometer and taking your 10,000 or 15,000 steps daily for at least another 4 months. It has been researched that it will take an average of six months for any activity to become a habit. You want this daily activity to be one of your new habits so that you can enjoy a lifetime of health so keep at it for another four months or so before moving onto a new regime or activity.

Introduction to The Pedometer

“What is it? How does it work? And why do I want one?”

Let’s cover all these questions and a little bit more…

First of all a pedometer can be as simple as “a device the counts the steps a person takes.” Not quite as simple, the high-tech modern units can also measure and record heart rate, distance traveled in miles, count calories burned, create fitness programs and goals (via a connection to your home computer software or through internet services), and more. Let’s not get too distracted with the sophisticated features of new pedometers though – and get back to the basics for now.

So why would you want to use a pedometer? Well, all types of studies and research have now found that people with pedometers are more active than those without. It’s all about awareness of our lifestyles and how much exercise we get on a daily basis. A pedometer is a fantastic – low or high tech – tool that motivates use to be more physically active. Pedometers measure our physical activity and allow us to then set specific and measurable goals for the following week.Strap on your pedometer and take a walk along the boardwalk with me...

If you’re wondering how they measure the value of a step, allow me to illustrate. Most pedometers come with a small weighted arm mechanism built into the unit. This mechanism is suspended by a spring that moves up and down for every step taken. These are highly tuned units that are very specific in design to monitor the type of movement akin to walking. With every step taken the arm mechanism moves down and touches a contact that records the step.

This is why it is important to wear a pedometer midway between your hip and belly button. Wear it on the opposite side of your dominant leg (your dominant leg is the one that you’d use to kick a ball), but check your manual for your specific pedometer as some state to wear it on your non-dominant leg for best results.

How many steps a day make a difference in my fitness? You’ll see me talk a lot about 10,000 steps. 10,000 steps per day is the recommended number of steps that the average healthy adult should be moving every day to maintain their health.

Where did 10,000 come from? Well, the number 10,000 approximates 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. We’d all be a lot better off to strive for 15,000 steps per day (and I’ll show you in a future article how to easily add 5,000 steps to your day) for increased health, weight loss, and other benefits.

Since you are interested now in walking towards better health, I might as well share some facts with you regarding consumption (food) versus burning off those calories. I know these numbers changed the way I eat and make me much more conscious of every bite I take! I always ask myself now, “do I have time today for an extra 3,000 steps to burn off this Cola drink?”

Approximations of Intake versus Steps

  • 20 steps per calorie
  • 1 Triscuit cracker: 400 steps
  • 10 French Fries: 2000 steps
  • 12 oz cola drink: 3020 steps
  • 1 Slice of Pizza: 6900 steps
  • 1 Super Big Gulp: 12000 steps
  • 1 Super-sized Big Mac Meal: 35080 steps

Other Exercise versus Walking for Caloric Burn…

  • cycling at 5 mph: 50 steps/minute
  • cycling at 15 mph: 150 steps/minute
  • leisurely, but steady swim: 100 steps/minute
  • 40 minute brisk walk = 5000 steps

Add Some Steps to Your Day!

I know, I know. 10,000 steps a day to maintain your physical condition or 15,000 steps a day to lose weight and firm up sounds like a lot at first, but strap on a pedometer and go about your day and you’d be surprised how many steps you actually take even when you’re not trying.

Once you’ve counted and measured the steps you already take with a pedometer, here are some ways to add more steps to your day…Strap on a pedometer and get moving. How to add steps to your day.

  • Hand deliver office memos or walk down the hall to a co-worker’s office.
  • Take a lover’s walk, in the park, even if it’s raining.
  • Take the stairs – even if this means you need to get off the elevator a few floors early.
  • Walk up the escalator in malls and subways.
  • Park farther from the office, the grocery store, or the shopping mall.
  • Walk the kids to school instead of driving them.
  • Take the dog for a walk instead of just letting him outside the back door.
  • Take your designated breaks at work and walk around the building or city block as many times as time allows.
  • Do your grocery shopping in the order you have items listed, instead of going aisle-by-aisle.
  • Take the kids to the park and either run around with them or walk laps around the play area while they play on the swings and slides.

By adding steps to your day you are essentially increasing your level of fitness and burning more calories. Every little bit moves you closer to your goal whether it be a fitness goal or a weight loss goal.

The American Medical Association states that by increasing activity, you will also:

  1. Increase stamina.
  2. Stimulate weight loss.
  3. Lower blood cholesterol.
  4. Lower blood pressure.
  5. Improve self image.
  6. Improve mood.
  7. Enhance quality of life.

And it that’s not enough to get you moving more with your pedometer, the AMA also says you will:

  1. Sleep better.
  2. Strengthen your heart and lungs.
  3. Decrease stress levels and the effects of stress.
  4. Increase your energy.
  5. Maintain appropriate weight.
  6. Lower triglycerides.
  7. Control blood sugar levels (and risks of diabetes).
  8. Feel better.
  9. Reduce feelings of depression and anxiety.
  10. Improve productivity in all areas of your life.
  11. Build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints.
  12. Increase muscle tone.
  13. Reduce risk of dying prematurely.

Really? It’s a win/win situation. A pedometer strapped onto your waist inspiring you to move around more often and in no time you’ll be looking better, feeling better, plus all the benefits above.

Your new life begins today! A healthier, longer, and no doubt happier, life!

Pedometer Basics

Although they’ve been around for decades I am often asked by people I meet on my walks about the gadget I have strapped to my waist. It doesn’t seem to matter which country or city I’m walking in – the device and the concept behind the pedometer is not as well known as you’d think. If you’ve landed here because you want to know what a pedometer is and why you’d want one, then this article is just right for you. Pedometers are inexpensive tools that count your steps and keep you motivated in an exercise regime. They are, in effect, a fitness and weight loss tool.

The pedometer is a small – simple or complex – electronic device. The basic function of this device is to track and record how many steps you take throughout the day and over time. Most models also convert the steps into the number of miles walked, number of calories burned and, if you’re a Weight Watchers’ fan, the number of activity points you’ve earned. The more advanced pedometers store the data so you can track your progress from month to month and some even connect to your computer via a USB port so you can track your progress through software and online services.

On a personal level, the pedometer keeps you motivated to take more walks, park a little further from your destination, be more willing to climb the stairs, and always competing against your own personal best.

You’re not alone in finding that with a pedometer hanging from your waist you’ll be walking more. A study performed by the University of Minnesota had clear results that people wearing pedometers walk more, on average, than people not wearing them. The study split people into two groups. Both groups were encouraged in the same manner to walk each day – the members of one group were given pedometers, the others were not.

The members who had a pedometer increased their steps approximately 2100 per day – the equivalent to 20 minutes of steady walking or a 30% increase in their average routine. The members without a pedometer walked a little more than half as many blocks as the first group.

This isn’t just a short term anomaly. People who own and use a pedometer tend to stick to a walking routine longer as well.

Once you have your pedometer, set daily and weekly goals to get the most use out of it. Read other articles on www.Pedometers.org to learn how to set your baseline step rate and simple ways to increase the number of steps you take each day.

Doing your best to ignore the fact that you’re wearing a pedometer, carry on your normal routine for a few days to a week. Don’¬ít aim for a certain number of steps per day during this time or you will be defeating the exercise of increasing your step rate. You want to measure how many steps you’d normally take in a normal day, seven days a week, work days and weekends.

Next you’ll want to calculate the steps you took and make a goal to take 500 to 1000 steps more each day. Five hundred more steps is nothing more than taking a walk around your city block, parking at the other end of the parking lot, getting off the bus or subway one stop early, or walking in place while watching a 30 minute sitcom on television at the end of the day. Every week assess your progress and keep working up to a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. If you are participating in a challenge to lose weight you’ll want to increase your daily steps to 15,000 per day.

Walking is one of the easiest ways to increase your exercise and a pedometer helps you to keep track of your progress and motivate you to keep at it.

Walking Off The Weight

It can sneak up on a person – this has happened to me four times in life – first a little weight goes on and then your clothes don’t fit anymore. Before you think I’m talking just about the ladies and pregnancy, don’t run off. This happens to all of us, men, women and children alike.

What will take and keep the weight off? Awareness and a pedometer. It has worked for me every time. I’m not asking you to change into a person who power walks in the morning, on your lunch hour and again after dinner – no – just to be aware of how much you do walk, how much you need to, to burn those calories, and to keep an eye on this ‘balance’ regularly. The fastest, easiest way to do so is the 10,000-15,000 step rate and a pedometer.

First and foremost, don’t feel alone in this. You and I are not the only two people who need to get fit and shed some weight. Americans and Canadians are eating more than ever before, more of the wrong foods as well, and exercising less. Our national health is in a steady and steep decline. Doctor and hospital visits are at all time highs.

However will we change our ways? Easy! One brisk 30-minute walk per day begins to turn that around – one person at a time.

The U.S. Surgeon General recommends getting at least 20-30 minutes of moderate activity each day and many of us are falling short and growing wider as a result. Some previous studies have shown that the average person takes about 3000 to 5000 steps a day and that is all the exercise their bodies’ receive. There simply aren’t enough steps in a busy lifestyle between our work desks, to our cars, to our recliners, to our beds. Not enough anyway, to burn off the food we consume on a daily basis.

If twenty to thirty minutes a day doesn’t really sound like much to you than consider that fitness experts recommend we walk 10,000-15,000 steps a day to maintain good health. So what does 10,000 steps look like and how long will it take to accomplish that many steps? The good news is that many of steps counted are performed in normal daily functions such as cleaning the house, taking out the trash, walking from the parking lot to the office. 10,000 steps are approximately 5 miles should you choose to take those steps in a row. Keep in mind too that the average person burns about 100 calories per mile walked. This also helps you to balance your daily intake of calories as well.

To discover how many steps you’ve taken or need to take daily you’ll need to buy and wear a pedometer. Wear it all day to gauge your step rate and progress and before long it will become an invaluable motivator.

Increase your steps whenever you can – you’ll love the results you’ll see in week 2, the end of the month, and certainly after 6 months! During the work week take walks at lunchtime. Evenings and weekends, take walks with your partner and/or children. Walk the dog. Walk to the grocery store or park at the far end of the shopping mall’s parking lot. Use stairs whenever possible – even for just a few flights.

Do you have ideas to share with people on increasing your steps while wearing a pedometer? Leave them in a comment below, we’d love to hear from you!

A Step Towards Health

Whenever I’ve taken on a new activity, interest or hobby I’ve always found that a gadget – no matter how small – is a great motivator. The same is true with exercise and fitness activities although I was somewhat surprised at just how much having a pedometer increased my enjoyment of my daily walk.

For years I’ve incorporated brisk walking into my exercise routine. Daily walks kept me fit and thin during my years of office work. A month of long walks with a stroller took off the post-pregnancy weight. At a time when I was running a home based business it was my routine walk that cleared my head and moved my mass even in lean economic times.

As you can see, I’m no stranger to a brisk walk, a long walk, or walking for fitness. This is why it came as somewhat of a shock when I received my first pedometer as a gift and found that it heightened my awareness and enjoyment of every walk, jog or run I took.

If you haven’t walked much in the past as a means to exercise, what’s stopping you? Walking is a fabulous, low-impact cardiovascular exercise that will tone your muscles and help you lose weight. Get yourself some good shoes, put on some comfortable clothes, book an hour away from the computer or desk, grab your pedometer and step out the door. You’ll love it and even if you don’t, within a week you’ll have formed a new habit and will start noticing changes in your physical well being.

If you are already reasonably fit you can walk with your regular running shoes or sneakers. In the winter I walk in warm winter boots with a supportive orthotic insole to protect my back, arch and joints. The point is: You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on specialty walking shoes to get started. Once you fall in love with walking you can spend the money but for now all you need is a decent pair runners (or comfortable shoes with orthotic insoles) and your pedometer to track your progress. Any of these footwear options allow for an enjoyable environment for your feet, and happy feet love to walk.