Did you know...using a pedometer can help you count your way to 10,000 steps?

Editor June 14th, 2011

Get started with a pedometer!

Did you know research shows walking 30 minutes a day can help control your weight, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve your overall health?

The President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports recommends at least 30 minutes a day, on 5 or more days a week of moderate physical activity, or 10,000 steps daily. Ten thousand steps may seem like a lot, but it's easy to add more opportunities for walking into your day, such as:

  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Getting off the bus a stop or two before your destination and walking the rest of the way
  • Taking a 10-15 minute break at lunchtime to walk around the block

Check our discussion with Hope Cassano about how she successfully added walking to her healthy lifestyles routine.

Also, there are other opportunities in Harlem for walking, like joining a walking group. Check out these links for more information.

Using a pedometer can help you measure how much physical activity you get each day.

What type of pedometer should I use?

There are many different types of pedometers. The key is to find a device that is well made, accurate and reliable. Very inexpensive pedometers may break, and may not measure steps accurately.

When you're buying a pedometer there are a few things you should look for.

Get a pedometer that only counts steps.

Why make things more complicated than they need to be? Often other measurement on the pedometer, like calories and distance, are inaccurate.

Make sure the pedometer has a safety strap.

With all of the walking you'll be doing you want to make sure the device doesn't fall off and get lost.

The pedometer should have a cover.

You want to make sure you don't accidentally hit the buttons and reset the pedometer.

These models of pedometers can be found online, most for under $20, and include the features above.

  • Yamax Digiwalker, Model SW-200-024: www.digiwalker.com

  • ACCUSPLIT Eagle 120XW, Model AE-120: www.accusplit.com

  • New Lifestyles, NL-800: www.thepedometercompany.com/pedometers.html

Setting up your pedometer

For the pedometer to correctly measure your steps it needs to be adjusted to your stride - since each person covers a different distance each time they take a step. Follow the instructions in the pedometer package to enter this information into your new pedometer.

To measure your stride you will need a measuring tape and something to mark your distance. Masking tape or chalk, for the sidewalk outside, are good options. Here are two ways to measure your stride:

Option 1: Walking 20 Feet

  • Go outside with a measuring tape and something to mark the sidewalk (chalk or masking tape).

  • Place a mark on the sidewalk (with the tape or chalk) then use the measuring tape to measure 20 feet from the mark. Place another mark at the end of 20 feet.

  • Begin walking at a normal pace toward the marks. When you reach the first mark start counting the number of steps it takes you to reach the second mark.

  • Divide 20 by the number of steps you walked. This is the length of your stride. Enter this number into your pedometer.

  • Feet/steps = Step length in feet.

  • If your pedometer asks for the stride length in inches multiply the number you calculated above by 12.

Option 2: Estimate by Height

The below formula is a rough estimate, but can be used to check the accuracy of number you calculated in option 1. The steps your pedometer counts will be much more accurate if you use option 1.

For women: 

Take your height in inches and multiple by 0.413 to determine your stride length.

For example: A women who is 5'2" is 62 inches tall, she would multiply 62 by 0.413. The length of her stride would be 25.6 inches.

For men:

Take your height in inches and multiple by 0.415.

For example: A man who is 6' is 72 inches tall. He would multiply 72 by 0.415. The estimated length of his stride would be 29.88 inches.

Wearing your pedometer:

  • Put your pedometer on first thing in the morning and wear it all day - every step counts!
  • For the pedometer to work best it needs to be attached to your belt or waistband, in line with your knee. The pedometer needs to be facing straight up and down to measure your steps correctly.

Preparing for your walk:

If you're setting out for a long walk, make sure you're prepared. Here are a few things to think about:

  • Bring water: It's important to stay hydrated throughout your walk.
  • Check the weather and dress in layers: Make sure you're prepared. Do you need a hat or jacket? You don't want to have to cut your walk short to return home because the weather made you uncomfortable.
  • Wear the right shoes: Make sure you have comfortable, supportive shoes.
  • Bring a friend: People are more likely to stick with exercise if they are joined by friends or family.

Where to walk?

Check out information on walking groups and trails in Harlem. Walking just one extra city block is about 200 steps. So start taking the long way to your destination and you'll be well on your way to 10,000 steps a day.

Want to know how many steps it takes to walk around the landmarks of Harlem? Click here.

Sources:

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/HQ01612

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/walking/SM00056_D

http://www.fitness.gov/BCBSAfinalfinalWalkGuide.pdf

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/cardio/walking/how-to-use-a-pedometer-to-get-10000-steps/

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