Pedometers, like most small electronic devices, come in a wide range of quality levels and functionality. You can purchase a cheap pedometer that does little more than count your steps and breaks the first time it slips off your belt. You can spend far more and have an expensive gadget that tracks your sleep, sets alarms and monitors your fitness. You can find anything in between. If you’re looking for the best pedometer, you need to know what you want out of the device and what it might offer. Here are some features to look for and keep in mind.
What is a Pedometer?
Simply put, a pedometer is a device that counts the number of steps you take. The original mechanical pedometers used a ball or similar loose item that wound bounce when you took a step, clicking a counter up by one. Today’s digital pedometers use internal gyroscopes or, in the case of some expensive models, GPS locators and a mathematical calculation based on the average distance of a step.
Before Buying a Pedometer
If you’re interested in buying a pedometer, you should know that today’s machines are complicated electronic devices. They count your steps, but they also do much more. Many models have alarms, goal tracking, GPS tracking, calorie counts and more. Some even track your sleep patterns for around the clock health.
Pedometers for Health
Typically you will buy a pedometer to record the number of steps you take. Many doctors estimate that around 10,000 steps in a day is optimal for health. This count is for walking, and so will alter if you jog or run. Fitness buffs can use a pedometer for tracking calories, distance and speed while running. The average consumer might use it simply to record steps taken. Any use is legitimate, but consumers must be aware of the wide range of utilities found in a pedometer. There is no sense in spending $200 for a sleep monitoring, goal tracking electronic device when a simple $50 step tracker will suffice.
What does it Track?
The most basic pedometer will track the number of steps you take. Some more complex pedometers will also track the calories you burn, the stairs you climb, the distance you run and other similar factors. If you are only interested in your step count, you can select any pedometer. For more specific needs, make sure the pedometer tracks them before you buy.
How Easily Does it Install and Sync?
These days, pedometers are tiny computers that come with a suite of tracking software. Before you buy a pedometer, make sure that the software it uses is easy to use. Many pedometers require a USB connection to sync with your computer, while some work wirelessly.
What does it look like? If you’re a serious runner and fitness guru, you probably don’t want a pedometer that looks like a toy designed for children. Make sure the pedometer you go for fits your aesthetic philosophy.
Adequate Battery Life
Some pedometers, particularly on the low end, will sacrifice battery quality for cost savings. It might not be worth the savings if your machine dies constantly. Pedometers generally measure battery life in terms of steps per day, so keep that in mind.
Size and Weight
You certainly don’t want a heavy, bulky machine in your pocket when you’re out running. Make sure your pedometer is small, light and easy to carry. Most pedometers are designed to be light and rounded, easy to hold and wear.
Some have wristbands, some use lanyards and some clip to belts, socks or shoes. Pick the carry method right for you. Some pedometers have secondary clips, which are very useful. Pedometers are one of the most frequently lost small electronics, so a secondary clip helps prevent it from slipping off along the way.
Budget may be one of the most important parts of pedometer shopping. The cheapest pedometers with any degree of quality will run around $20-30. The most expensive, full-featured devices will in the $200 range. Chances are you’ll be spending around $50 for a high quality, well-designed pedometer with a few good features.
Some pedometers require a USB connection to upload your data to its software. Others will use a wireless device to connect and sync their data. Wireless devices tend to cost a bit more, but are more convenient. You never have to worry about losing a cable.
How Accurate is it?
Some pedometers are less accurate than others. Look for a high degree of accuracy in your pedometer, particularly if you want an accurate count of steps and distance traveled.
The most basic pedometers do little more than display a number as steps are recorded. Better pedometers will have interactive displays with a range of features, including sound feedback for notifications when you meet or exceed your goals.
If you jog near rivers or along the beach, a waterproof pedometer is almost essential. Chances are you will drop the device at least once, and if it lands in a puddle or splashes into a lake, you want to make sure it keeps working.
Alarm features are standard on many middle and high-end pedometers. You might want it to chime when you reach a certain number of steps, a certain distance traveled or a certain time of day.
Advanced pedometers can perform more functions than just step counting. Some models will estimate the calories you burn as you work out, allowing you to track an entire fitness regimen with one device.
If you run for speed and distance, rather than for exercise and fitness, you probably want a pedometer that will estimate your top and average speeds for a run. This function is not standard on most low-end pedometers, so keep that in mind as you shop.
Particularly useful for higher end fitness monitoring pedometers, a goal tracking application is useful for exercise programs. Some pedometers will allow you to set goals, such as distance traveled, steps taken, time spend running or calories burned. They will then chime to alert you when you have reached your goal.
How far back does the pedometer remember? You might not always be able to sync after every run. A pedometer with plenty of memory is essential for those with a constant fitness routine but less constant computer access. The cheapest step counting pedometers won’t track individual sessions, so be aware of this fact.
Some pedometers allow you to take a reading of your pulse at certain points in your run. You probably won’t get a machine that records constant heart rate data, but you can easily find one that allows you to stop for a moment and record your elevated heart rate at the time.
As with most small electronic devices, a clock is built in to most pedometers. This can be useful if you’re minimizing the number of gadgets you carry with you when you run. However, you might still have a watch or cell phone on hand, so a secondary clock is not essential.
A stopwatch function is built in to most pedometers. Unlike a simple clock, the stopwatch allows you to record certain exercise facts over a specific time, such as the time it takes to run a distance or the time it takes to burn a number of calories. Be aware of this feature in your pedometer.
Check out the 10 Best Pedometers on the market right now:
1. Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer
2. Omron HJ-150 Hip Pedometer
3. A&A Pedometer with LCD 3D Motion Sensor Fitness Tracker
4. PINGKO 3D Carabiner Walking Pedometer
5. Realalt 3DTriSport Walking 3D Pedometer
6. OZO Fitness SC2 Digital Pedometer for Walking
7. iTro ProStyle 3D Pedometer with Strong Clip
3d pedometer with tri-axis sensor technology and 10 steps error correction for accurate tracking. Tracks steps, walking time, distance walked (in km or miles) and calories burned. Secure clip and long strap. Progress bar for daily motivation. 7 day memory (know your numbers for each day of the week). Clock (12/24 hours display format). Resets at midnight so that you can start every day with ease.
8. OneTweak Pedometer for Walking
9. CSX Simple Walking 3D Pedometer with Lanyard, P301S