How to buy a pedometer
A pedometer buying guide
A pedometer is a fitness accessory that counts footsteps while you exercise, and a type of exercise and fitness equipment that is popular with people of all fitness levels who want to track their workouts and physical activity. Different pedometer models offer different features, including conversion to distance and goal tracking. Other types of pedometers use different mechanisms to count steps. There are several types of pedometers available to consider, with features that range from simple to advanced.
Choosing which pedometer to buy is a matter of understanding how you will use it, and identifying which pedometer features will be most useful to your exercise routine.
>> How will you use your pedometer?
Most people consider buying a pedometer for one of two reasons:
- To track overall steps throughout a day
- To track workout results
If you are looking to track workout results, you might look into a high-quality pedometer that offers a wide variety of pedometer features that you can tailor to your specific workout routines. If you are casually tracking steps throughout the day, a more basic pedometer that offers simple, pared-down features will probably satisfy your needs.
>> What do you want your pedometer to track?
Pedometer features vary from model to model. If your future pedometer uses include tracking metrics such as distance, speed and goals, you might consider some of the more advanced models. Common types of advanced tracking features offered on some types of pedometers include:
- Pulse rate tracking
- Distance in miles or kilometers
- Speed tracking
- Inactivity tracking
- Goal tracking
In addition, some high-quality pedometers offer the ability to upload data to a mobile application on your smartphone or to your computer, so you can analyze and track your results from workout to workout. Some types of pedometers even have Bluetooth capabilities that allow you to transmit the data wirelessly from the pedometer to your computer or smartphone. Models with these features are especially helpful if you are training or developing a fitness routine to meet certain benchmarks.
>> Are you buying a pedometer to use on a treadmill?
Some pedometers feature GPS to track speed and distance, and not just steps. If your main pedometer use will be on a treadmill, then a GPS unit will not work properly because it will appear that you are not moving, unless it has an option to use a footpad accessory. Read more about footpads further down.
>> How important is accuracy?
Accuracy is a significant consideration when researching how to buy a pedometer. If your intended pedometer uses include tracking steps casually throughout the day, then accuracy is not necessarily a critical pedometer feature for you. A spring model that attaches to your belt will probably satisfy your needs, but keep in mind that most of these models must be oriented straight up and down to provide accurate readings. There are two types of spring models: the hairspring mechanism and the coiled spring mechanism. Coiled spring mechanisms tend to last longer than hairspring mechanisms.
If you are going to be using your pedometer to help you track your workouts or prepare for a competition, or if you desire precise tracking, then the best pedometer to buy will be an accelerometer model. Accelerometer pedometer advantages include the ability to track steps even when tilted, and they easily adjust to changes in your pace. In addition, these types of pedometers often include advanced features and tracking.
>> Types of pedometers and their advantages
|Hairspring || |
- Good for estimation
- Easy to find
|Coiled spring || |
- Long battery life
|Accelerometer || |
- Accurate readings at many angles
- Responsive to varying speeds
|GPS || |
- Accurate speed and distance measurements
- Accurate at any angle
- Suitable for other types of workouts like rowing, biking, etc.
>> Additional pedometer features to consider
Some types of pedometers include the option to use a footpad accessory to measure steps or offer a GPS tracking option. A footpad provides you with an accurate step count while GPS allows flexibility to use the pedometer to track other metrics such as distance and speed, with other types of workouts that do not rely on steps – like biking. GPS and footpad options vary from model to model.
>> How to test accuracy
The easiest way to test accuracy is to put on the pedometer as directed by the manufacturer, then take 150 steps. If the pedometer records 150 steps, then you probably have found a high quality pedometer that is calibrated correctly. If it records more or less steps than you have actually taken, try to calibrate the model. Check the directions to see if calibration instructions are included.
>> What size and type of display do you want?
Every type of pedometer has a different type of display. The majority are simple LED displays, similar to a digital watch. Some models offer advanced digital displays, such as a full-color screen. Before you decide which pedometer to buy, be sure to examine the various displays and choose one that is easy for you to read. Large displays are easier to read while in motion.
>> How to buy a pedometer: finding the perfect model
The first step in understanding how to buy a pedometer is to know how you will use it. If you are interested in tracking how many steps you take during a normal day, a coiled spring model will probably work for you. These models tend to be on the lower end of the price spectrum, and offer extended accuracy and battery life. Hairspring models may work too, but readings may be less accurate. Another thing to keep in mind is that spring-mechanized types of pedometers typically click with each step, so if you prefer a quiet model you might want to look into another type of pedometer to buy. Be sure to determine if spring models are a coiled spring or hairspring mechanism prior to purchasing, so that you make an educated decision.
For advanced use, compare accelerometer and GPS models. These types of pedometers have advantages that include accurate readings even when oriented at an angle, such as in a pocket or strapped to your arm. In addition, these models are the best pedometers to buy if you want to track your speed, distance, pulse or other metrics that allow you to compare workouts. These models are on the higher end of the price spectrum, and tend to offer the best value because of their advanced tracking options, quiet operation and the option to upload data to a smartphone or computer.
Finally, look for pedometers next to fitness-related equipment, or alongside sports and outdoor supplies. With so many high quality pedometers available with a wide range of features and accessories, you should be able to find the model that's right for tracking and monitoring your specific workouts and physical activities.
Check out Walmart's selection of FitBit Pedometers