Guide to buying pedometers and fitness apps

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, March 5, 2014

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Many of us know Centers for Disease Control suggests everyone accumulate 30 to 60 minutes or more of moderate physical activity, such as brisk walking, on a daily basis. But how do we know if we are walking enough?

Of course, one way is to plan structured, 30- to 60-minute walks for most, if not all, days of the week. We also know, however, there are health benefits to short bouts of activity accumulated throughout the day. One of the best ways to keep up with short bouts of physical activity is to use a pedometer. Ultimately, your long-term goal should be 10,000 steps (approximately five miles) per day.

Pedometers and fitness apps have the potential to increase awareness and amount of physical activity. They can act as a tracking device that continuously collects current activity and gives feedback about how many steps have been taken that day. This feedback can increase confidence and may increase motivation to achieve a certain number of steps per day, set goals and remind us to be active.

Pedometers can be found in many sporting goods stores and online, whereas fitness apps are obtained through mobile devices.

The most important consideration when buying a pedometer is accuracy. You want a pedometer that counts your steps as accurately as possible. Second to accuracy, you will want to consider comfort.

Choosing other features is dependent on your personal preferences, and they might help motivate you. Just remember that features such as calories burned and distances covered are estimates (based on individual factors input into the device) and therefore have a larger margin of error than steps counted.

As a place to start, check out Consumer Reports’ picks. Its top choices, based on accuracy, ease of use and value, are the Omron HJ-112; pocket pedometer; and Sportsline 330, 343 and 345.

According to recommendations compiled by Texas A&M AgriLife Extension specialists, the top health and fitness apps are MyFitness Pal, calorie counter and diet tracker; the iTreadmill: Pedometer Ultra with Pocket Step; and Lose It! by FitNow.

Also, FitBit seems to be growing in popularity. Although the app is free, you have to first purchase a FitBit monitor. The device allows you to track your progress via FitBit on your phone.

One last note: the information included in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider.

We continue to register teams for Walk Across Texas, the eight-week walking program that kicked off March 3. Call the Extension office at 940-627-3341 for more information.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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