Keeping score

Track your progress with a pedometer


People like to keep score: that’s why there are competitive sports leagues and accountants. And it’s why pedometers are such powerful motivators. The little device counts your steps, provides immediate positive feedback and tells you how close you are to achieving your personal fitness goals (10,000 steps a day is the gold standard). But just like blind referees and corrupt bean counters, a bad pedometer can let you down.

To find the one that’s best for you, Catrine Tudor-Locke, a walking behavior researcher at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, suggests you try before you buy, taking 20 steps with the pedometer in store. And start your shopping here, with our guide:

Yamax Digi-Walker SW -701
The gold-standard of pedometers, the Yamax is used in research labs the world over. A 2006 study published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health found it consistently detected within 1% of all steps taken at 80 metres per minute. Plus, it’s a simple, relatively low-cost workhorse. Its batteries last an average of three years, and its cover protects against rain and dust.

New Lifestyles NL-1000 Accelerometer
Another research-grade pedometer, the NL-1000 is an accelerometer pedometer. So not only does it measure steps, it also uses a computer chip to measure the intensity and frequency of your movement (which a traditional pedometer, using a spring, can’t do). The chip counts the amount of moderate-to-vigorous exercise you’ve achieved in a day, including activities that aren’t strictly walking, like running, aerobics, etc. The starting goal is to get 30 minutes daily—the minimum recommended amount of exercise in Canada’s Physical Activity Guide.

Omron GOsmart Tri-Axis Pocket Pedometer
Pedometers work best if attached to your belt, close to the hip, over your dominant foot. Wearing one in such a fashion, however, isn’t always practical in day-to-day life. People might think you’re carrying a pager, and “ultimately, the best pedometer is the one that you’ll remember to use,” says Tudor-Locke. “A pedometer does no good sitting on the shelf.” The GOsmart can be worn almost anywhere – in your pocket, bag, or around your neck. It has a four second delay, too, which means that bumps or phantom steps won’t be recorded.

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