Pedometers Proven to Increase Exercise

Omron Alvita Ultimate HJ-329 Pedometer
Omron Alvita Ultimate HJ-329 Pedometer. Wendy Bumgardner © 2014

Does wearing a pedometer really help people to get more exercise each day? Research says they do. In fact, in a 2005 study, women with pedometers and a goal of 10,000 steps per day walked more than those whose goal was a brisk, 30-minute walk. And since then, pedometers have become a popular way to get started with an exercise program.

Pedometers Encourage More Steps Per Day

In the study, all participants wore a sealed pedometer that recorded their steps for the researchers. One group also had a pedometer they could read at any time to tell them how many steps they had taken throughout the day, and they were encouraged to walk 10,000 steps per day. The other group could not see their pedometer steps, but were encouraged to take a 30-minute brisk walk each day.

Some of the findings:

  • The group who could check their pedometers averaged over 10,000 steps per day, compared with 8,270 steps for the 30-minute walking group, a difference of a mile per day.
  • On days when the pedometer group did not meet their target, they still walked over a mile more than the 30-minute group did on days those in that group did not meet their target (7,780 steps vs. 5,597 steps).
  • The pedometer group was taking more steps every day than they did before the study, while the 30-minute a day group did not increase their steps on days they didn't take their 30-minute walk.

The Difference a Mile Makes

Taking 2,000 more steps per day can be the difference between weight gain and maintaining or losing weight. This study confirmed that seeing your steps tracked on a pedometer is a simple way to motivate yourself to take those extra 2,000 steps per day.

Wear a Pedometer, Save Your Life

"Pedometers are quite popular now, and with good reason," Dixie L. Thompson, Ph.D., FACSM, the lead researcher on the study, said in a press release. "Our study shows that they can provide an incentive for people to increase their activity levels. For many individuals, walking is the preferred way to reach ACSM's recommended level of physical activity, which contributes directly to better fitness and health. In a society where poor diet and physical inactivity contribute to nearly 400,000 deaths a year, increasing our level of physical activity has a very beneficial effect on public health."

What Pedometer Will Work Best for You?

Choosing a Pedometer: What to look for in a pedometer. There are many options, including a pedometer watch or fitness band on the wrist or traditional pedometers you wear on your waistband. They may simply count steps or they may connect with an app to give you lots of data on exercise, sitting time, sleep and more.

Top Picks for Pedometers: These pedometers will work for a variety of walkers, with selections that connect to an app as well as unplugged old-school pedometers.

How to Addict Yourself to Using a Fitness Tracker: Once you get a pedometer or fitness tracker, you need to take these steps to make sure it doesn't just end up in your sock drawer.

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