Looking to lose weight? Want to track how many daily steps you take? Buying a pedometer is a great way to track your daily movement and see just how far you are actually walking. A pedometer is a sensor that tracks your body motion and counts your footsteps. The amount of steps taken is converted into distance traveled if you know your "stride length". Pedometers count footsteps using 3 common mechanisms - spring or hairspring and accelerometers. Accelerometers, AKA piezoelectric pedometers, are considered the most accurate and reliable step counting mechanism. The vast majority of pedometers unfortunately use a thin hairspring and these lose their strength rather fast and become unreliable after only a couple months. Manufacturers produce pedometers with the smaller and cheaper hairsprings to save production costs, so look for a pedometer that at least has a coil spring (like the Yamax Digiwalker). A good coil spring pedometer will retain its original calibration for millions of steps while the less expensive hairspring models will lose their calibration before 1 million steps leaving you with a pedometer that will probably overcount your footsteps.
Some of the higher quality pedometers will have clocks, timers, stopwatches, speed estimators, pulse rate readings, calorie burning estimates, and a convenient 7-day memory to check your stats. How many steps do you need to walk? Experts say you should walk about 6000 steps/day to stay healthy but you need to cover almost 10000 steps/day to lose weight. As we mentioned above, finding an ACCURATE pedometer is important. In several studies done at universities, only about 1 in 3 got the correct steps counted while the others either overestimated or underestimated your steps. You might have to move the pedometer around on your body to experiment with what area gets the best step count (need to be worn straight up and down, not tilted). Some of the newer walking speedometers or odometers from Nike use accelerometers to track speed and distance traveled using GPS but they can be quite expensive. Good accelerometers are the Omron HJ-112
and the New-Lifestyles NL-2000, both of which are fairly inexpensive. We found several research articles referenced to on the Pedometers.com website. The research focused on using 10 of the top pedometers on the market and compared the results for accuracy, durability, and reliablity. Amazon.com consumer reviews were also very helpful in determining if the most popular pedometers were actually rated the best. Our results are below based on the compilation of all the reviews and findings. RECOMMENDED
- We suggest that you start by browsing the most popular pedometers online here
Consumer Reports say the Omron HJ-112 Digital Premium Pedometer
($22) is the top rated pedometer on the market. Amazon.com customers agree with this ranking saying the Omron pedometer "counts steps accurately" and "its a great fitness and motivation tool". The HJ-112 features a unique dual sensor technology which translates to - you can carry it your pocket or bag and still get great results. This multi-purpose digital pedometer measures calorie consumption during your workout and the distance traveled. The detachable belt holder and security strap ensure it will stay on your body. Owners say they like the fact it counts for aerobic and non-aerobic steps. I bought this model for my wife who was training for the Portland marathon and she used it almost everyday in her running workouts to see how far she was going. My kids also love this device - my daughter took it to school and had the entire classroom counting their steps all day. It's a great way to get kids interested in walking, running, or exercising in general. Omron makes many of the top sellers on Amazon - you can browse the top rated Omron pedometers here
. UPDATE SEPT 2014
- We were recently introduced to the Fitbit products and tried out the Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker. We loved it right from the start. Tracks steps, distance, calories burned, stairs climbed, and how well you sleep. You can sync it automatically with your computer or smartphone/tablet. Track your progress, set goals, and view your progress. At close to $100 it's definitely more expensive than Omron products, but Fitbit is the future of activity trackers. View Fitbit activity trackers here
Best Value Step Counter:
The Yamax Digiwalker SW 200
($25) is a Japanese pedometer that comes highly rated in every comparison we read and reviews are only positive on this solidly made product. Some even call the Digiwalker the "Gold Standard" of pedometers. Japanese law requires that pedometers made in Japan need to be accurate within 3% and this step counter exceeds those levels. The drawback to this Yamax is that it's only a step counter and doesn't do calories, but for basics, this pedometer has "great value".
Most Accurate Pedometer:
The New-Lifestyles NL-2000
($50) has taken the title of "most accurate pedometer" in many studies and recently it was shown that the NL-2000 counts steps more accurately in obese or overweight people than other brands. The New Lifestyles pedometer uses "a piezoelectric strain gauge to not only accurately count steps, but to also detect the intensity of each step in order to determine the appropriate amount of caloric expenditure". The creators of this pedometer have made it less sensitive to positioning on the body and therefore more accurate. Comes with a 7-day automatic memory and it counts steps silently. The one feature that many users say they wish this model had was a "distance tracker". Although the most expensive of the bunch we found in tests, the NL-2000 performs admirably and remains reliable for millions of steps.
Want the latest technology combining GPS and pedometers, give the Navman Sport Tool W300
($75) a try. The easy to use interface keeps things simple with just 2 buttons and a small LCD screen. Keep track of speed, pace, and distance with this GPS device. Comes with a timer, clock, target pacing functions, and calories burned. Great for athletes as well as walkers who want the best techology and the most accurate results. The Garmin Forerunner 201
($125) is great for training and hard core runners, although walkers could use it as well. It more expensive than the reliable NL-2000 or the Omron and offers features they don't, but one complaint we found on several of the GPS pedometer reviews (all brands) was that they lose the GPS signal periodically making them unreliable. Newer models seem to perform better, so look for the latest product lines to be safe.