Any type of physical activity can ignite a life-changing spark. As soon as you get moving, hormones flood the brain and begin to change the way it works. Researchers in Stockholm recently discovered that the part of the brain associated with learning and memory actually grows in size when you run. This study and many others like it suggest that exercises like running and walking can make you not only physically stronger, but also smarter.
The problem is that the demands of day-to-day life can often distract us from achieving our health goals. The obstacles that stand in the way of getting regular exercise often seem insurmountable. Getting started alone can seem like it requires all kinds of preparatory work. You may imagine that you need a gym membership, but before that you need to find suitable workout clothes. Then, you have to create some kind of regular exercise schedule.
Here’s the good news: you don’t necessarily have to dedicate a portion of your day to exercise to reap its benefits. Instead, you can resolve to make time for small exercise breaks. Ordinary stairs provide an excellent mini-workout opportunity, for example. Once you decide to embrace a more active lifestyle, you can use a pedometer to mark your progress toward that goal. There are many types of pedometers you can buy, ranging from inexpensive, portable pedometers that you can wear around your neck or carry in your pocket to full-featured smartwatches that can do much more than just count steps.
Here are the best pedometers you can buy:
- The Fitbit Alta HR combines accurate step counting with heart rate tracking, great battery performance and a slim, discreet form factor.
- If you like the idea of owning a fitness wearable but you don’t want to spend much money on one, the Amazfit Bip is the best deal you’ll find.
- The 3DFitBud is incredibly easy to use. Just put it in your pocket and walk and it’ll start counting your steps.
- Accuracy is the 3DTriSport’s main selling point. Built-in error correction stops the device from recording false steps.
- The Bellabeat Leaf is an innovative female-focused health wearable that’s elegant enough to be worn as jewelry.
The overall best fitness wearable for pedometry
Fitbit Alta HR
In an increasingly crowded fitness wearable market, Fitbit is continuing to hold its own. The brand has earned a reputation for making energy-efficient, user-friendly fitness devices, and the Fitbit Alta HR doesn’t disappoint in this regard. Since this model came out two years ago, it’s cheaper than it was when it first debuted. The highly accurate pedometer is one of its best features.
- Highly accurate step counter. You can’t trick it into recording false steps by waving your hand around in the air.
- Heart rate tracking. It monitors your heart rate all day long, not just when you’re exercising.
- Personalized fitness metrics. The Cardio Fitness score feature combines your VO2 Max score with heart rate information and other data.
- Long battery life. A single charge lasts a full seven days.
- Price has dropped since its debut two years ago. The Alta HR is significantly less expensive now than it was when it first came out.
- Slim and lightweight. It’s about 25 percent slimmer compared to Fitbit Charge 2.
- Receives smartphone messages. You can check your notifications discreetly, without pulling out your phone.
- No stair climbing mode. The pedometer can’t distinguish between ordinary steps and stairs.
- It’s not waterproof. You have to remember to take it off before you shower or swim.
In a nutshell
The Fitbit Alta HR is reasonably priced for a multi-function fitness wearable, plus it’s easy to use and comes with a variety of useful health widgets. The long battery life adds additional convenience, but the fact that it isn’t waterproof is somewhat disappointing.
The best budget fitness wearable for pedometry
The Amazfit Bip might be the best fitness wearable you’ve never heard of. It offers more and better features than many of its competitors, at half the price. One charge lasts for over a month and the Gorilla Glass display adds toughness and durability. The pedometer works quite well too, and the fact that you can use the built-in GPS to track the distance you cover adds additional value.
- Incredible battery life. Amazfit claims that a single charge will last a full 45 days.
- Affordable price tag. Some band name fitness wearables that cost twice as much don’t have as many features.
- Always on display. The display is easy to read in daylight and the backlight helps you view it in the dark.
- More sensors than you’d expect. Amazfit Bip can track your heart rate, GPS position and more.
- Tough and durable. The display is made from Gorilla Glass, so it won’t easily crack or scratch.
- User-friendly phone notification delivery feature. You can customize the kind of alerts you want to receive and read the entire message without switching to your smartphone.
- Cheap looking plastic construction. The Bip is a lot tougher than it looks, but the plastic materials make it look cheap.
- Limited functionality. You can’t download apps and you have to use one widget at a time.
In a nutshell
The Amazfit Bip is extremely inexpensive for a fitness wearable and it doesn’t disappoint when it comes to tracking steps.
The fact that it has a built-in GPS unit means that it can accurately
The most user-friendly pedometer
Do you like the idea of using a pedometer but dread the thought of learning how to use yet another gadget? If you answered yes, 3DActive’s 3DFitBud may be worth a look. It’s a tiny, simple, no-frills pedometer that is small enough to fit in the corner of your pocket. Since the built-in battery lasts a full 12 months, you don’t even need to worry about charging it.
- Simple and easy to use. To get started, all you basically have to do is pick it up and start walking.
- Large font display. Even though the 3DFitBud is only six centimeters long and four centimeters tall, the large display is very easy to read.
- Just as accurate as full-featured pedometers. The digital accelerometer contained inside the device does a reasonably good job of detecting steps.
- Small and portable. It’s small enough to fit inside of the watch pocket of your jeans.
- No charging necessary. The makers of this device say that the batteries will last for a full 12 months.
- Comes with accessories. It comes with a clip and a neck lanyard.
- Multiple color options. Available colors include black, blue, pink and white.
- Doesn’t have a companion app. There’s no way to transfer your data to a health app.
- It’s not waterproof. It might break if you get sweaty.
In a nutshell
3DActive’s 3DFitBud is about as simple as it gets when it comes to pedometry. This device does one thing and one thing only: it count your steps. The reset button lets you start all over again. That’s literally all there is to it.
The most accurate pedometer
Some pedometers get confused when you wave them around in the air, and others overestimate or underestimate the number of steps that you’ve taken when you go for a walk or a run. Realalt’s 3DTriSport pedometer claim to have solved many of these types of accuracy issues through the use of 3D Tri-Axis Sensor technology. Another accuracy booster is the 10-Step Error Prevention feature, which stops the device from counting your steps until you’ve taken 10 steps or more.
- Above average accuracy. The Tri-Axis Sensor and the 10-step Error Corrector safeguard make this pedometer rank among the most accurate pedometers on the market.
- You can use it without a smartphone. Since you won’t need as many devices when you exercise, there will be more room in your pockets.
- Estimates distance and burned calories. Many basic single-function pedometers don’t provide this type of information.
- Long-term step tracking. You can check how many steps you’ve taken over the span of the last 30 days,
- Comes with a belt clip and neck lanyard. The included accessories add additional convenience.
- Long battery life. The battery that comes with the pedometer will last for about a year.
- There’s no way to export your data to a health app. This bare-bones pedometer is not meant to be used with smartphones.
- Bulky design. Other pedometers are slimmer and sleeker.
In a nutshell
Realalt’s 3DTriSport pedometer is very accurate when it comes to tracking steps and gives you some idea of how far you’ve gone and how many calories you’ve burned. It’s also inexpensive and user-friendly. On the other hand, its chunky design is a bit of a turn-off.
The most fashionable pedometer for women
The minds behind Ballabeat seem to be targeting the specific wants and needs of a specific demographic that other brands usually ignore: women. The Ballabeat Leaf features a feminine design and can be worn as a bracelet, necklace or as a decorative clip-on. The pedometer feature seems to work quite well however you decide to wear it.
- It looks like jewelry. The wood and steel construction of this pedometer gives it a natural-looking feel.
- Multiple ways to wear it. You can wear it as a decorative clip-on, or use it as a bracelet. Alternatively, you can loop it through a necklace and wear it as a pendant.
- Elegant design. There is no display and all the electronic parts are hidden.
- Six-month replaceable battery. The fact that you don’t have to charge the Leaf adds convenience.
- Fertility, menstruation and sleep tracking. This is a full-featured wearable that can do much more than track your steps.
- Comes in a variety of different styles. Available colors include gold, silver and rose gold.
- Silent alarm. The vibrating alert feature lets you set discreet reminders, so that you’ll never forget when it’s time to stand up and stretch every once in a while when you’re at work again.
- Activity tracking loses accuracy when used as a necklace. Sometimes the sensor doesn’t realize that you’re moving your body when you wear the Leaf around your neck.
In a nutshell
The Bellabeat Leaf offers more than elegant looks. Various widgets track other aspects of your health, ranging from menstruation to sleep quality and more. If you like the idea of owning a full-featured fitness wearable but dislike the way they look, the Leaf could be for you.
Buying guide for pedometers
Not all pedometers offer the same degree of accuracy. Some get confused when you shake them around, while others have the annoying tendency to interpret a bumpy car ride as a series of steps. Pedometers that are equipped with 3D sensors are generally better at discerning when a step has occurred. Special software algorithms can help cut down on errors as well.
Fitness tracking features
Along with pedometry, other common features that you’ll find in fitness wearables include heart rate sensing, activity monitoring and sleep analysis. Many can stitch together the data they collect and use it to provide workout recommendations and big-picture views of your overall health. These extra features come at a significantly increased cost compared to single-function pedometers, though.
Most smartwatches come with some type of pedometry feature, but some smartwatches are more accurate than others when it comes to tracking steps. Many smartwatches are equipped with a voice assistant, which allows for hands-free operation. Other common smartwatch features include built-in music storage, GPS navigation and installable apps. The main downside of smartwatches is that they are even pricer than fitness trackers.
Style and look
If you intend to wear your pedometer all the time, you may want to take style into consideration. Pedometers come in many different shapes, colors and styles. Some pedometers even resemble jewelry.
Some pedometers are small enough to fit in a pocket, but others are chunky and require a neck lanyard or a belt clip. Larger pedometers typically have more buttons and larger displays. Manufacturers of small-sized pedometers don’t have much real estate to work with, so they typically stick to more minimalistic interfaces.
The more features a pedometer has, the more energy it needs to run. Simple pedometers that run on watch batteries don’t need to be recharged on a routine basis and can operate for months or even years before they run out of energy. Likewise, more complex pedometers– especially pedometers that have a GPS feature– tend to need much more power.
Single-function pedometers can’t interact with smartphone apps at all, but fitness wearables and smartwatches can. However, some companion apps are more user-friendly than others. Since bugs and glitches can stop you from getting the most out of your pedometer, it may be worthwhile to locate your prospective pedometer’s companion app in various app stores and read the reviews before you buy.
If you intend to use your pedometer outdoors, be sure to get one that has a clear, high contrast display. Some pedometers come with display backlights, but many do not.
Basic pedometers only cost $20 and many are just as accurate as mid-range and high-end pedometers. However, inexpensive pedometers can’t send data to health apps. This means that you’ll have to write down your data if you want to save it or analyze it later.
If you’re willing to spend about $80, you’ll be able to purchase a good quality multi-function fitness wearable that can do more than just track your steps. Typical fitness wearables at this price range can perform sleep analysis and display smartphone notifications.
High-end fitness wearables in the $150 price range have more and better features. Some are equipped with built-in GPS units, which can help you plot out where you’ve been during a workout without the aid of a smartphone.
Frequently asked questions
Q: How does a pedometer work?
A: Most modern pedometers are equipped with one or more accelerometers. Accelerometers are electronic circuits that contain microscopic crystal structures that generate a tiny amount of voltage when they are moved. The circuit analyzes this voltage to determine velocity and orientation. More accelerometers usually means more accurate step tracking. Some pedometers rely on one accelerometer, while others use as many as three.
Q: How many steps should I walk each day to maintain good health?
A: Many people who begin using pedometers try to aim for 10,000 steps per day. The origin of this metric dates back to a clever marketing campaign from 1964. During the 1964 Olympic games, the makers of the manpo-kei pedometer used ads to put forth the claim that walking 10,000 steps each day is the key to good health. Even though scientists have disputed that claim, shooting for 10,000 steps might still be a good way to start getting in shape for some.
Q: What are some of the main health benefits of walking?
A: According to the Mayo Clinic, walking can elevate your mood, fortify your bones, help you burn calories and even improve your balance and coordination.
- Do you need some fitness motivation? Try starting a friendly pedometer competition to find out who can accumulate the most steps within a limited period of time. If you use a fitness tracker or a smartwatch to track your steps, you may be able to find an app that will post your daily step count to social media automatically.
- Walking to work is a convenient way to improve your daily step count. If you live far away from your workplace and you use a car to get there, that’s no excuse. You can always find a place to park that’s within walking distance of your job.
- Do your feet a favor and invest in a comfortable pair of shoes. Uncomfortable shoes become even more painful after extended walking sessions.