Pedometers play up every step you take

Mon Nov 12, 2012 5:45am EST
 
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By Dorene Internicola

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Pedometers have ticked off many miles since Leonardo da Vinci sketched his version, essentially a pendulum for walkers, in the 15th century.

While step counting will never be a magic fitness pill, experts say this most pedestrian of gadgets can put extra spring in an ambulatory routine.

"Just as a watch can't make a person be on time, a pedometer can't make a person active," said Dr. Barbara Bushman, an exercise specialist and personal trainer with the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM). "But it's a good tool for promoting physical activity."

Bushman said research has shown that in various populations, wearing a pedometer helps with weight loss, as well as encouraging focus on physical activity.

A summary of 26 different studies showed that pedometer users walked at least 2,000 more steps each day than nonusers, according to the Harvard Health Letter, produced by experts at Harvard Medical School. Also, using a pedometer helped them increase overall physical activity levels by 27 percent.

For most healthy adults, 10,000 steps per day is a reasonable goal, according to ACSM.

Bushman recommends pedometers as an adjunct to activity and notes that old-fashioned pedometers can be an inexact measure of exercise volume. Position also matters.

"Tilting, angling, placing it off the body or on a loose waistband can affect accuracy," she said, noting the devices don't pick up non-ambulatory activities, such as stationary cycling or rowing.   Continued...