best pedometers

Pedometer: Test & Reviews

Author: Manuel Heitmann

Coach & Fitness Expert

The pedometer monitors the wearer’s daily physical activity and is very popular in the fitness sector. For our list of the best, our team checked various tests on the Internet and was therefore able to rate displays, data, synchronizations and other gadgets.

Questions to Consider Before Buying A Pedometer

What is a Pedometer?

A pacemaker is an electronic and mechanical device that counts the steps that the user takes. Most of the time the pedometer is attached to the waistband or belt for better accuracy. Another word for the pedometer is the pedometer.

The pedometer basically measures according to the principle of inertia and can thus record the distance and speed while walking or running. This happens with every shock and by entering the respective stride length.

The more expensive devices can be adjusted to the centimeter, but the stride length varies, so that slight deviations occur. Especially when climbing or on an incline, the step is shortened enormously. Here, a high-quality device adjusts the movement using software and enables reliable distance measurement. Many electronic models work with the help of an electronic pulse generator and a 3D sensor.

Pedometers are mainly used to improve your own health and fitness by motivating you to exercise more. The new sporting challenge does not require a selection of new sports, but allows a certain daily goal of steps taken to be adhered to and readable by the device. Some step counters also read separately registered areas in addition to the total number of steps. People are stimulated to increase their own performance, which the pedometer documents accordingly.

How does a pedometer work?

With a step counter all steps are counted, displayed and saved. Step counting is possible as an electronic and mechanical measurement. The simple device can be attached to the belt or trousers to enable counting.

However, this can also deviate or become less precise if the device is not worn correctly. It must be remembered that every shock is recorded by the step counter and therefore the unintentional movement can also be interpreted as a step. Depending on the quality of the device, the systematic fluctuations in the count are more or less present.

On the other hand, there are also step counters that can indicate a net time of the steps, i.e. the distance covered, which takes place by determining the average step length. This prevents the counter from interpreting movements as steps taken even when standing or sitting.

Electric pedometers have 2D or 3D technology with a sensor that allows the device to be carried in a pocket, in a backpack or with a strap around the neck without showing any major deviations.

Additional functions in addition to the simple measurement of steps are often a calculation of the calorie consumption during walking or running. For this, the body weight must then be indicated in the pedometer.

Advantages & areas of application of pedometers

A pedometer is not only used to see how many meters and steps have been covered, e.g. B. when hiking or in the outdoor area, but is increasingly recommended in terms of health. He can not only measure his own movement behavior, but also change and increase it.

More and more often people lose the need to move. Posture and daily movement are often restricted by modern developments and the various work areas.

There is a lot of sitting and the muscles are hardly used. This in turn leads to a destabilization of the pelvis, the spine loses its elasticity and the intervertebral discs are no longer adequately supplied with nutrients and thus lose substance. If there is a lack of movement, the spine will curve, tension, herniated discs, headaches and similar symptoms.

Insufficient exercise can also mean that the body no longer breaks down enough toxins or transports them with delay. Body cells need oxygen, as do the muscle groups that need the stimulus to maintain it. The metabolism has to be stimulated again and again through movement so that the organism can work healthily.

In one study, it was repeatedly proven that counting one’s own steps with a pedometer stimulates people to move more and more extensively. This can reduce various risks, including heart and circulatory problems, as exercise stimulates blood circulation and fat burning, clears the body of toxins and waste products, and greatly improves nutrient delivery and processing.

Many devices now have an integrated acceleration sensor in addition to the activation sensor. This enables the movement and acceleration to be measured at the point on the body to which the pedometer is attached. So it can also be worn on the leg or arm.

Such devices can differentiate between strong, medium and light movement, as well as between different walking or running speeds and active movement without the steps. A higher or lower activity zone can also be set, which divides the intensity of the movement into number of steps, distance covered, energy consumption and even altitude measurement. Information on height, weight and age, step length and step size are set in advance in order to make the evaluation even more detailed.

What types of pedometers are available?

Most electric pedometers not only measure steps themselves, but can also use movement to determine distance, fat burning, and calorie consumption. There are also the original mechanical devices. Both device variants work on the same principle. Inside there is a mechanism that detects the movement as a step in the event of a shock.

Mechanical pedometers

Mechanical models count the steps using a pendulum mechanism in the device. Inside the pedometer, like a mechanical watch, there is a toothed gear that has a different transmission ratio that keeps the pointer in motion. This can be done with a metal ball, a mercury bubble or an integrated slide for adjusting the stride length.

With each step, the pendulum movement pushes the gear wheel, which advances the counter with another gear wheel or a lever connection. The display of the mechanical devices is similar to a clock. There is a pointer that turns in a circle within markings on the edge as soon as the movement occurs. When the revolution is complete, the pointer starts again at zero.

The advantage of mechanical step counters lies in the simplicity of use, the precision mechanics and the functionality without battery consumption. The disadvantage remains the inaccuracy and the fact that the user of the pedometer has to note the revolutions himself.

If there is a metal ball or a mercury bubble, the steps are counted by a tilting movement and the walking movement is registered. With every step, the ball moves from side to side. However, this also leads to inaccuracies or deviations, since the movement takes place mechanically, the devices are very sensitive in their mechanisms and thus the change in the ball position is always interpreted as a step. A deviation of around 10 percent is to be expected here, but this can be included by the user in order to make the result more accurate again.

Electronic pedometers

The electronic pedometer is a bit more precise because it works digitally and usually also has additional functions. In most modern devices, the mechanical connections have been replaced by electronic components. The methods of recognizing and counting the steps are different. Some have a spring that closes the circuit, others a reed switch. The acceleration can also be measured, or different counting methods in the device can take place as a combination of several actions. The device registers the movement and the information is passed on. Instead of a gear, a switch is used.

For this purpose, the step length is specified, which is always individual and then enables the device to measure the steps correctly. Before using the device, you can walk a set distance of approx. 500 meters and count the steps yourself. Then the distance is divided by the number of steps to get a relatively accurate average of the step and the step length.

The electronic devices work via a sensor that also records movements in different directions, i.e. forwards, to the right or to the left. The number of steps counted is then calculated and recorded by the device with the distance covered and the calories consumed. These models always require electricity, either via a rechargeable battery or batteries.

With some devices, the data can then also be transferred via Bluetooth to a computer or your own smartphone in order to be precisely evaluated or shared with friends, others have a display on which the steps and other information appear as LCD numbers. Most of the time, there is also a stopwatch, the ability to convert calories and fat burned, a heart rate monitor, an alarm function or even a radio, so that the device can be used in many ways if it has to be taken along.

Some devices have a sensor using radar pulse technology. A radar beam is sent to the ground from the pedometer and the reflection of the beam can then measure the exact distance and speed. Such devices can then also be used for other types of movement, e.g. B. inline skating, cycling or skiing.

What do I have to look out for when buying a pedometer?

First of all, the choice of which pedometer is particularly suitable for your own purpose depends on what exactly you are striving for, whether the device should help you lose weight, just measure distances or motivate you to exercise more.

Many athletes and hikers use the pedometer to get an overview of the distance covered and the increase in performance, but a step counter can be useful and monitor one’s own movement behavior even without doing sports.

Those who sit a lot, due to work or household chores, often hardly know how few steps they actually take. The result is faster weight gain and physical indolence.

But also as an athlete or when hiking, the walking time itself is interesting in addition to the walking distance and step counting. In addition to this information, modern step counters also record the break in between or the actual stopping.

The functions of the devices differ in the number and also in what is to be measured. In addition to simply counting steps, most modern models can also measure distance traveled and calorie consumption. Entering weight and stride length allows a very precise calculation.

In addition, the body fat can also be determined again. Body fat is understood to be the ratio of the accumulated fat to the total mass of the body. If there is too much body fat, cardiovascular diseases can develop, but too little fat is not beneficial to health. A healthy average is the prerequisite for feeling fit. The standard values ​​for the necessary body fat percentage depend on the body type, age and gender. The step counter makes an effective check possible.

The size of the pedometer also plays a role in the purchase decision. If you travel a lot and ideally want to count the steps every day, you should use a rather small and comfortable device that can be carried with you all day and is hardly noticeable when you use it.

A display from which the information can be easily read is also useful. Many are illuminated so that even darkness is not an obstacle to counting the steps. An additional reset button allows all data to be reset, but should be configured so that it cannot be accidentally pressed as soon as movement occurs.

A distinction is now made between step counters and so-called “activity trackers”, with the latter also determining additional data for the steps, including sleeping habits, pulse rate or the number of stairs climbed. Most devices allow synchronization with your own smartphone, whereby the data is then not evaluated via the computer, but via an app provided for this purpose, which must also be downloaded.

An important additional function is also the storage of the daily data, which then, depending on the device settings, records the data of the last 7 to 30 days. In order to be able to understand your own performance over a longer period of time, including the increase in the number of steps, the data must be transferred from the device to a computer so that it is not lost.

Another function is the “workout mode”. This is particularly useful for people who exercise daily or regularly, walk a lot or jog a lot. The “workout mode” allows you to differentiate between the form of movement and speed.

Both the step length and the calorie consumption change with the course of the movement and are then evaluated and recorded separately by the device. In this way, the normal steps in daily walking can be distinguished from the number of those who take place while jogging. The average speed can then also be determined.

Since the pedometer is often used during sporting activity, many devices contain a stopwatch, an alarm and a timer. Goals can also be compared. The comparisons are defined in a target and actual state.

Pedometer in smartwatches / fitness watches and running watches

A pedometer rarely comes alone. As our step counter test shows, it has become almost difficult to find a model that can only count steps. Even simple step counters, such as the Ultrasport 3D step counter, which only consist of a clip for your running shoe or your pocket, can at least count additional calories.

Most pedometers are integrated in so-called wearables, which can do a lot more. There are

Fitness tracker
like the Fitbit Alta HR, LetsFit Fitness Tracker or Willful Fitness 

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In addition to a step counter, fitness bracelets usually have at least one calorie counter with them. Many models also use the steps to calculate the distance covered. This is most accurate when the stride length is measured and entered manually. Fitness watches with GPS are even more accurate.

Running watches
like Polar M430, Fitbit Blaz or Garmin Forerunner 35

Running watches cost significantly more than simple pedometers and fitness bracelets. But they also offer a detailed evaluation of the running training. With GPS you can display the distance you have run, training goals can be tracked and your pulse is measured. (Optionally also with chest strap).

Smartwatches
like the Apple Watch Series 4, Huawei Watch 2 or Garmin vivoactive 3 GPS

Smartwatches are certainly the most expensive type of pedometer. You can do a lot more than just counting steps, you can analyze a wide variety of sports and you can track training goals using various apps. You can also make calls with a smartwatch.

Where is the best place to buy my pedometer?

The selection of step counters is huge and ranges from mechanical and electronic devices to very complex models with many additional functions. An overview is better possible on the Internet than in specialist shops, since dealers give the details in detail and also present the devices specifically for the respective use and application and, if necessary, explain the individual functions in more detail. The prices are lower when ordering online, since most shops and retailers do away with staff costs and rents.

Useful accessories

Most pedometers are very simple in design and ready for immediate use, so hardly any additional accessories are required. A rechargeable battery or a battery is usually included in the scope of delivery. Is it not a pedometer that z. B. like a watch is worn on the wrist, a clip or strap is necessary for attachment to the belt or pants.

For devices that can be synchronized with a computer, laptop or smartphone, a suitable app must be downloaded. These are mostly free.

Frequently Asked Questions: Pedometers

Pedometer - How Many Steps Per Day Are Good?

You may already have read that experts advise walking up to 10,000 steps a day. This number can in no way harm your health, but a US study has determined the number 8000 as the recommended number of daily steps. Starting at 6,000 steps a day, there should be a health-promoting effect. So if you can take 10,000 steps a day, you are definitely on the safe side.

How long does a pedometer run?

If you have chosen a mechanical pedometer, you don’t have to worry about this point. In the case of the electronic counterpart, it depends on whether the device is operated with a battery or an accumulator. Batteries last for several months, depending on the intensity of use, while a battery has to be charged much more frequently with a suitable charger. Details can be found in the respective instructions for use.

Where should I wear the pedometer?

With a mechanical pedometer, it is recommended that you wear it on your waistband or belt if possible. This is where the risk of vibrations and movements falsifying the measurement result is lowest. If it is a modern electronic pedometer, then you can at least theoretically put the device in your backpack or handbag without this having a negative impact on its functionality. However, a belt clip has proven itself above all. This not only ensures a secure attachment, but you can also easily grab the pedometer at any time and take a look at the display.

What is the stride length?

If the number of steps is multiplied by the step length, the distance covered can be calculated. This estimate is all the more accurate if the stride length is set individually.

Before a pedometer can be used, it must first be entered. Even with tables, the accuracy that determines the step length with average values ​​is not given. B. with a height of 1.70 meters indicates a stride length of 63 centimeters. It is therefore better to find out and enter your own stride length, since every person runs at different speeds, which in turn results in a different length of the stride. The stride length also depends on whether you are walking comfortably or quickly, whether it is a walk or jogging, whether the road is climbing or not.

A step counter usually converts the number of steps into the distance run and assumes an average step length. Therefore, it makes sense to know your own stride length and enter it individually. The stride length is measured and calculated on the basis of a very precisely measured distance. These can be found on sports fields, where the lanes are marked according to the existing meters. Using this distance, you can also set your own stride length at the desired speed. The number of steps is also counted and later also compared. Then the length of the distance run is divided by the number of steps counted. This results in the mean stride length, which indicates the average value.

How accurate is a pedometer?

The accuracy of a pedometer depends primarily on the type of device. Very cheap models are rather imprecise. B. even if the movement does not take place, so while standing or sitting. On the other hand, devices equipped with 3D technology count very precisely. These only record the movement when it actually takes place and start as soon as the first step is taken.

Deviations are still possible. The cause of this can be incorrect positioning. A pacemaker is often attached to pants or belts, and an ideal way to measure steps is because the device is worn directly on the hip. Others can be worn on the upper arm, wrist or ankle, which makes the measurement less accurate. If, on the other hand, it dangles from a tape in your hand or is in a pocket, the count may be incorrect if the device does not have a 3D sensor. The step counter is best placed where the manufacturer recommends it in the operating instructions.

The cause of an incorrect measurement can also be incorrect programming of the step length. (See above.) To find out whether the pedometer measures correctly, the first time you use the application, you can also count how many steps are taken and how many are recorded. If there are major deviations, the device should be positioned at a different point on the body.

Higher quality devices measure the stride length more precisely and individually. This can also be entered. Different applications and modes take into account that different movements and speeds occur when walking or jogging.

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