Pedometers - Frequently Asked Questions What about the 10,000 steps message? How does a pedometer actually work? What is the difference between a pedometer and a stepometer? Does it matter where I wear the pedometer? How long should I wear it for? My pedometer doesn’t seem to be counting every step – what’s wrong with it? Will the pedometer work if I’m running? How can I work out the distance I have covered from my step count? Why has the screen on my pedometer faded? How many steps should children aim to do? I would like to buy a pedometer; can you recommend a particular model or retailer? *********************************************** What about the 10,000 steps message? You may have heard that the target number of steps per day is 10,000 steps. This message came from Japan and was largely due to a successful marketing campaign. Whilst 10,000 steps was the common figure to aim for (it’s a catchy, easy to remember target), research demonstrates that you will reach the recommended physical activity targets (30 minutes most days of the week) by working out how many steps you do on a normal day (your baseline step count) and then try to increase it gradually until you have added on 3,000 steps to this baseline. 3,000 steps is roughly equivalent to 30 minutes of walking. This is explained more fully in the Paths to Health daily step count card, available to download from http://www.pathsforall.org.uk/pathstohealth/resources.asp How does a pedometer actually work? As you would expect, pedometers all work in slightly different ways. Generally, inside the pedometer is a small pendulum that tilts each time you take a step. As your leg moves, the pedometer records your steps. What’s the difference between a pedometer and a stepometer? The little gadgets have a number of different names – pedometer, stepometer, step counter – all do the same thing. Read the details of each particular model to check if it has any special features such as calorie counting or distance measurement. Does it matter where I wear the pedometer? Yes! Pedometers made from different manufacturers can vary as to where the best place to put them is. Make sure you read the instructions for your particular pedometer carefully so you can get the most out of its use. Most pedometers work well if they are clipped onto the waistband near the hip. How long should I wear it for? All day! Clip it onto your waistband first thing in the morning and wear it all day. Count every step because every step counts! My pedometer doesn’t seem to be counting every step – what’s wrong with it? There could be number of reasons for a pedometer not picking up your steps: Some pedometers are designed not to start counting steps until a certain number have been taken – in this way they will only count ‘purposeful’ steps, as opposed to small movements. Pedometers with no front casing to protect the buttons can sometimes reset if you move in a certain way. There is little you can do to stop this happening other than be aware that your movements may effect the pedometer. Not all pedometers on the market are of the same quality – some pedometers will be more accurate than others as the internal mechanisms will be different. Many people have a ‘dominant leg’ – this is the leg that is stronger and tends to take longer steps. Having the pedometer at the side of the dominant leg may cause the pedometer to record too few steps. Try wearing the pedometer on the other leg and see if there is a difference. Will the pedometer work if I’m running? The answer to this depends on the pedometer. Some pedometers are built for walking and running and if this is the case, it will normally say so on the packaging. If there is no mention of it being suitable when running, it is unlikely to be able to accurately count steps as running uses a different motion. How can I work out the distance I have covered from my step count? Firstly, measure your step or stride length. To do this, take ten steps and then measure the distance you have covered. Divide the distance you have covered by ten to work out your stride length for one step. To work out the distance you have covered, multiply the number of steps you have taken by your stride length. Why has the screen on my pedometer faded? If the screen on your pedometer is faded, or if it is difficult to read the numbers, it is likely that you need to replace the battery. Check the instructions that came with your pedometer for information on how to change the battery. How many steps should children aim to do? Whilst it is recommended that adults take 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week, children should aim for one hour each day, most days of the week. This would roughly be equivalent to 6,000 steps as well as their normal baseline step count. Children should be encouraged to do a range of activities other than just walking. I’d like to buy a pedometer; can you recommend a particular model or retailer? There is a wide range of pedometers on the market so it is worth taking time to consider which pedometer is the best model for your project and target group. All pedometers measure the number of steps taken and some may also convert this into distance travelled (e.g. in metres or kilometres) and/or energy expended (as calories burned). They can vary in price from around £4 up to £30. Please remember that giving out pedometers alone has very little effect on increasing physical activity and they are most effective when used with personalised goal setting and when targeting the most inactive people. So consider what you are aiming to achieve. Generally, the more expensive the model the more features it will have e.g. steps, distance, calories, speed, time and memory. Unless your project wants to use a range of data, such as calories burned, it is best to opt for a simple but reliable model that just counts steps. If you choose a model that shows distance as well as steps be aware that, as each person’s stride length differs, you will usually need to set up the pedometer starting. This does require extra work and time. If you do decide to use a model that provides a range of data, make sure you know how you will collect and analyse this data before you pay for something you don’t need or have not time to use effectively. When you are choosing a pedometer consider: how much money you have to spend if they will be kept by or loaned to walkers what data you want to collect (and can realistically use) how simple it is to use and read if you want any extras such as bright colours or lanyards if the battery is already installed and an activation tab in place does the price include a spare battery Then: check with local contacts what models worked (or did not) for them buy a trial batch; ask some of your walkers to test them Always test the pedometer with the person who is going to use the pedometer and make sure it is recording before they starting using it i.e. get them to walk and count 30-100 steps and see if the pedometer counts the same Paths to Health are currently using the Silva Pedometer Step Counter. This pedometer is a very simple step counter, weighing only 22 grams it attaches to trousers or belt and counts steps only. Paths to Health have made an arrangement with Be-Active for health walking projects in Scotland to receive the following pricing when ordering the Silva Pedometer Step Counter: 1-10 pieces @ £9.05 each 11-100 pieces @ £8.57 each 101-500 pieces @ £8.07 each All price include VAT and postage and packaging. If you are interested in purchasing the Silva Pedometer Step Counter, please email firstname.lastname@example.org quoting Paths to Health. Please note, you will be dealing directly with Be-Active and all enquiries should be made to them. This applies to the Silva Pedometer Step Counter model only.