These little step-tracking gadgets now have a solid track record when it comes to motivating people to exercise. And their popularity is growing.
Inside this small-as-an-egg device are the keys to exercise success that have eluded far more complex and expensive fitness programs: accountability, goal-setting and being able to monitor progress. If the objective is to reach 10,000 steps in a day (the recommended amount), seeing a tally of 4,000 steps at 3 p.m. is a wake-up call to start walking.
“When we ask people to start an exercise program, it’s important to have measurable, achievable goals, and adding this self-monitoring component is very critical,” says Simon Marshall, associate professor of exercise and nutritional science at San Diego State University. “We don’t know why exactly, but keeping a number, a prompt, in our consciousness on a regular basis is important, and that’s why pedometers are superior to other methods. It’s on you all the time.”
The fact that nothing has to be written down no fitness diary needs to be kept, no information must be logged on a computer makes pedometers easy to use day after day in various settings, none of which has to be a gym.
Perhaps better yet, the average cost is around $20.
“People describe them as being like little personal trainers,” says Catrine Tudor-Locke, associate professor and director of the Walking Behavior Laboratory at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La. “They provide ready, real-time data so you can make decisions about how you’re going to spend the rest of your day and make adjustments as needed.”
Los Angeles-based personal trainer Harley Pasternak has been studying the health habits of various cultures for his latest book, “The 5-Factor World Diet.” He says, “What I found was that in the 10 healthiest countries in the world, they all have different [dietary habits]. But one thing they all share is that they all walk way more than we do in America. For those in these 10 countries, being fit and healthy is about having an active lifestyle, while here in America, being fit is about performing an exercise in a room designated for fitness.”
Pedometers can create that lifestyle balance that many Americans otherwise would lack.
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