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Walk this way
Walking 101

The nuts and bolts of pedometers
The nuts and bolts of pedometers

  • Cost: Depending on the features, anywhere from $10 to $50.
  • Features: All pedometers count steps, but pricier models may also tally distance walked and calories burned. Be aware, though, that pedometers aren’t as accurate at calculating distance and calories as they are at counting steps.
  • How they work: Most have an internal mechanism that resembles a teeter-totter. As you move, the mechanism moves up and down and records steps. Some cheaper models may inaccurately count fidgeting or other movements as steps.
  • What can affect accuracy: Walking speeds of less than two miles an hour, loose waistbands, improper placement.

How active are you?
How active are you?

  Steps per day: less than 5,000
  Activity level: Stand up and start moving!

  Steps per day: 5,000–7,499
  Activity level: You’re halfway to your goal.

  Steps per day: 7,500–9,999
  Activity level: You’re almost there. Good job!

  Steps per day: 10,000–12,500
  Activity level: Keep up the great work!

  Steps per day: more than12,500
  Activity level: Do you ever sit still?

The President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports urges all Americans to take 10,000 steps a day. But if you spend most of your days stuck at a desk, in meetings or behind the wheel, you may only walk a fraction of the five-mile-a-day recommendation. How can you step it up? Strap on a pedometer. These handy little devices can help you track your progress and keep you motivated—one step at a time.

Walking 101

  • Pick a pedometer. Look for a simple, lightweight device with an easy-to-read display and a sturdy clip to hold it in place. You’ll find a good selection in most department or sporting goods stores. Before you start stepping, make sure the pedometer is accurate: Attach it to your belt or waistband, lined up with your knee. Reset the device to zero, then take 20 steps, walking normally. If the screen reads between 18 and 22 steps, the pedometer is likely pretty accurate. If it doesn’t, reposition it and repeat the test. If the reading is still off, try a different device.
  • Find your starting point. Wear your step-counter throughout the day for three days straight, except when you’re doing vigorous activity like aerobics. Add the number of steps you took each day and divide by three to get your average daily steps. This is the number you’ll build upon.
  • Establish short-term goals. To start, try adding 250 steps a day. How? Stop being so efficient: Instead of carrying the laundry up from the basement in one trip, break it up into several. Cut the lawn with a push mower instead of a ride-on. Visit the bathroom on another floor at work.
  • Work your way to long-term goals. Aim to make 2,000 of your daily steps fast ones or to reach the recommended 10,000 steps a day.
  • Monitor your progress. Did you take less time to walk around the neighborhood than you did last week? Are you less winded now than you were then? Reassess your routine every six weeks to make sure it’s working.