Pedometer Use - Counting Steps Guide for Fitness and Weight loss

Pedometers, also known as step-counters, count the strides and 'step' movements that you make walking, jogging, running, or during gym workouts. They are available as stand-alone devices or as apps for mobile devices and use various mechanisms to detect movements.

Traditionally people have used time and distance travelled as a measure of the amount of exercise they have performed. Similarly, people interested in losing weight or controlling their weight have used exercise times, speeds and distance travelled as a measure of the number of calories they have burnt during a session.

However, it is hard to add up all the exercise sessions you complete during the day and to get a measure of your total calorie consumption.

Pedometers offer a simple solution to these problems. The steps can be converted into calories burnt and amount of weight lost as pounds and kilograms independent of pace and distance.

This article will show you how this is done by reviewing the relationship between exercise rate and speed for walking, running and cycling and providing charts of the number ofsteps required to lose a pound or a kilogram of fat.

There are a vast array of pedometer devices available, either as stand alone devices or as smartphone applications
There are a vast array of pedometer devices available, either as stand alone devices or as smartphone applications | Source
Pedometers are not new. This is an older model
Pedometers are not new. This is an older model | Source
Pedometers have been available for more than 50 years as mechanical devices.
Pedometers have been available for more than 50 years as mechanical devices. | Source

What are the Benefits of Pedometers?

A review of various pedometer research studies showed that:

► People who used increased their physical activity by for than 25%.

► Setting a daily step goal of 10,000 steps per day tended to increase the daily exercise rate.

► People tended to progress towards this goal and to keep exercising at that rate.

► Pedometer users significantly decreased their body mass index by 0.38, when they had a step goal.

► Pedometer users significant decreased their blood pressure.

Another study of how pedometers can motivate people to lose weight and exercise more towards a goal found that:

► Pedometers were viewed as reliable and valuable devices which helped motivate people and provided a simple powerful tool for monitoring progress towards self-defined exercise and weight-loss goals.

Great Debate About the Exercise Rate and Energy Expenditure (Calories Burnt)

There is an unresolved debate about whether the amount of energy expended in walking, running and cycling over the same distance is dependent on how fast you go. If you go faster the rate of calorie burnt will increase as you are expending more energy. But you will arrive at the destination quicker and so you will exercise for a shorter period of time at the higher rate. This is the classic 'hare' and 'tortoise' race. The two sides of the argument are:

► It makes no difference how fast you go, the distance traveled will be the same and the total energy consumed will be the same.

► Walking, running and cycling at a faster pace burns more calories pushing harder against the wind. Your muscles have to work harder and so the energy consumed will be greater if you exercise at a higher rate and pace. There are other benefits of working out at higher rates and intensities which is well covered by various articles.

Why does this matter? Pedometers and the steps they count are essentially independent of the speed or rate at which you walk run or cycle. Though if you keep track of exercise times, pedometers can be used to measure and monitor your pace and speed. Stride length also tends to increase with speed, especially when shifting from a slow walk, to a fast run, and this can affect the relationship between steps and energy expended.

Eating Less or Exercising More - Which is the Best Method of Losing Weight?

There is a lot of emphasis on exercise as a weight loss method especially on programs such as 'The Biggest Loser'. But how much exercise is required? It would be useful to develop rule of thumb estimates for:

► Number of Walking Steps required to lose 1 lb and 1kg of weight

► Number of Running Steps required to lose 1 lb and 1kg of weight

What is the best method for losing weight for a set distance of daily exercise such as 10 miles, 16 kilometers?

The answers to these questions is provided below.

How many steps per day are enough for general health?

The following pedometer-measured physical activity index has been proposed:

Sedentary - less than 5,000 steps per day

Low Activity - 5,000-7,500 steps a day

Moderately Active - 7,500-9,900 steps a day

Active - 10,000 -12,500 steps a day

Highly Active - 12,5000 steps a day

How does Walking Running and Cycling Compare with Other Sports and Activities?

The image below compares the calorie expenditure rate for various activities and below is a comparison of the calorie burn rates for walking, running and cycling at various speeds.

Calories per Mile for a 160 Pound Person

Walking

  • 2.0 mph - 91 calories per mile
  • 2.5 mph - 87 calories per mile
  • 3.0 mph - 85 calories per mile
  • 3.5 mph - 83 calories per mile
  • 4.0 mph - 91 calories per mile
  • 4.5 mph - 102 calories per mile
  • 5.0 mph - 116 calories per mile

Running

  • 5.0 mph - 116 calories per mile
  • 6.0 mph - 121 calories per mile
  • 7.0 mph - 119 calories per mile
  • 8.0 mph - 123 calories per mile
  • 9.0 mph - 121 calories per mile
  • 10.0 mph - 131 calories per mile

Cycling

  • 10.0 mph 26 calories per mile
  • 15.0 mph 31 calories per mile
  • 20.0 mph 38 calories per mile
  • 25.0 mph 47 calories per mile
  • 30.0 mph 59 calories per mile

The burn rate depends on the weight of the person. Heavier people burn calories at a higher rate as they are pushing against gravity!

The simple formulae below can be used to estimate your calorie burn rate per mile for speeds of about 3-5 mph (8 kph). Simply enter your weight to derive an estimate for walking and running.

Miles

Running (calories burnt per mile)

0.75 x your weight (in lbs)

1.5 x your weight (in kg)

Walking (calories burnt per mile)

0.53 x your weight (in lbs)

1.0 x your weight (in kg)

Kilometers

Running (calories burnt per km)

0.45 x your weight (in lbs)

0.9 x your weight (in kg)

Walking (calories burnt per km)

0.33 x your weight (in lbs)

0.66 x your weight (in kg)

Calorie Burn Rate per Hour for Various Activities

Calorie burn rate per hour for various activities
Calorie burn rate per hour for various activities | Source

Converting Calories Burnt to Pounds and Kilograms of Fat Potentially Lost

► One pound of fat is equivalent to 3,500 calories.

► One kilogram of fat is equivalent to 7,000 calories

Step equivalents as steps per minute for various activities can be derived from the calorie burn rates.

Knowing the calories in a pound and kilogram of fat and the calorie burnt rates at steps we can estimate the number of hours of exercise of various types to burn one pound of fat and one kilogram of fat.

The two tables at the end of the article summarize this information.

The extract below shows that the hours required to burn one pound of fat is large, perhaps longer than most people expected. For slow walking it is about 6 hours, brisk walking/jogging - 4 hours, Fast running - 1.5 hours, cycling moderately fast - 3 hours, fast cycling 2.5 hours.

Clearly, exercising to lose weight is a lot of work. You can lose the same number of calories by starving for two days, as most people consume 2500-3000 calories a day.

Steps Required to Lose Fat

Using the data in the table below we can estimate the number of steps required to lose a pound of weight (3,500 calories). As shown below the rate at which the exercise is done (the intensity) does make a difference, but the effect is relatively small except for walking. This means that we can estimate the number of steps or step equivalents required to lose one pound and one kilogram of fat. It varies with body weight. Once again the effort required is larger than most people expect compared with dieting

Steps Required to Lose 1 lb (500 g) of Fat

► Body weight 290 lb - 44,000 steps (about 4 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 270 lb - 48,000 steps (about 5 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 250 lb - 51,000 steps (about 5 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 230 lb - 56,000 steps (about 6 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 210 lb - 61,000 steps (about 6 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 190 lb - 74,000 steps (about 7 days at 10,000 steps per day)


The estimates for kilograms are:

Steps Required to Lose 1 kg of Fat

► Body weight 145 kg - 85,000 steps (about 8 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 135 kg - 91,000 steps (about 9 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 125 kg - 98,000 steps (about 10 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 115 kg - 110,000 steps (about 11 days at 10,000 steps per day)

► Body weight 105 kg - 120,000 steps (about 12 days at 10,000 steps per day)

Hours of Various Activities Required by 290 lb person to burn one pound of fat

Exercise
Steps per minute equivalent
Hours for person weighing 290 lb to burn one pound of fat with the exercise
Walking 2 mph
67 steps/minute
9.6 hours
Walking 3 mph
100 steps/minute
6.1 hours
Walking 4 mph
152 steps/minute
5.2 hours
Walking 5 mph
242 steps/minute
4.3 hours
Running 8 mph
409 steps/minute
2 hours
Running 10 mph
420 steps/minute
1.5 hours
Bicycling / biking - mountain
364 steps/minute
3.1 hours
Bicycling / cycling 12-14 mph
121 steps/minute
3 hours
Bicycling / cycling 14-16 mph
364 steps/minute
2.5 hours
Swimming - moderate
212 steps/minute
4.4 hours
Swimming - vigorous
303 steps/minute
2.7 hours
Aerobics
242 steps/minute
3.8 hours
Calisthenics / exercise - vigorous
242 steps/minute
3.3 hours
Frisbee playing
91 steps/minute
8.7 hours
Gardening
121 steps/minute
4.9 hours
Golf - carry clubs
136 steps/minute
4.4 hours
Hiking
182 steps/minute
4.5 hours
Hockey
242 steps/minute
3.3 hours
Rowing machine - moderate
212 steps/minute
3.8 hours
Rowing machine - vigorous
258 steps/minute
3 hours
Skiing - cross country
242 steps/minute
2.3 hours
Skiing - downhill
182 steps/minute
3 hours
Snorkeling
152 steps/minute
5 hours
Soccer
212 steps/minute
2.6 hours
Softball or baseball
152 steps/minute
5.3 hours
Step aerobics
273 steps/minute
2.5 hours
Table tennis
121 steps/minute
6.7 hours
Tennis - doubles
212 steps/minute
6.3 hours
Tennis - singles
240 steps/minute
4.4 hours
Volleyball
121 steps/minute
7.7 hours
Water Aerobics
121 steps/minute
11.8 hours
Lifting Weights - general
121 steps/minute
7.2 hours
Lifting Weights - vigorous
182 steps/minute
7.7 hours

How Does the Type of Exercise and Speed or Rate Affect the Calories Burnt Over a Fixed Distance

There is a lot of debate about whether running, walking or cycling over a fixed distance of 10 miles, for example, burns more calories when done at a faster pace. Going faster consumes more calories, but you complete the task faster. The data used for these comparisons may also be unreliable. The images below provide some of the evidence. The major point derived from this are:

Cycling is much more efficient and burns much less calories than walking or running over a range of 'reasonable' speeds.

There is some evidence that the energy burn rate for cycling increases with speed but the differences are relatively small - 30% difference from slow to fast.

The total calories burnt when running a fixed distance appears to be unrelated to speed (apart from small difference.

Walking is the major exception. Bisk and Fast Walking consumes more calories than walking slowly. Walking is most efficient - requiring less energy per mile - at about 3-4 miles per hour. Walking at 7 mph requires twice as much energy as walking at 3 miles per hour.

Conclusion: Brisk Walking is a Good Exercise for Losing weight compared to Walking Slowly

Energy Expenditure Rates for Cycling, Running and Walking and energy consumed for a 10 mile workout y person weighting 180 lb

Activity, Speed
Calories per hour for 180 lb person
Calories Burnt for distance of 10 miles
cycle 6 mph
327
545
cycle 10 mph
490
490
cycle 13 mph
654
503
cycle 15 mph
817
545
cycle 18 mph
981
545
cycle 25 mph
1308
523
run 5 mph
654
1308
run 5.2 mph
735
1413
run 6 mph
817
1362
run 6.7 mph
899
1342
run 7 mph
940
1343
run 7.5 mph
1022
1363
run 8 mph
1103
1379
run 8.6 mph
1144
1330
run 9 mph
1226
1362
run 10 mph
1308
1308
run 10.9 mph
1471
1350
walk 1 mph
163
1630
walk 2 mph
204
1020
walk 2.5 mph
245
980
walk 3 mph
270
900
walk 3.5 mph
311
889
walk 4 mph
409
1023
walk 4.5 mph
515
1144
walk 5 mph
654
1308

Calorie burn rates for various speeds walking, running and cycling

Calorie burn rates for various speeds walking, running and cycling
Calorie burn rates for various speeds walking, running and cycling | Source

Calorie burn rates for 10 km of walking, running and cycling

Calorie burn rates for 10 km of walking, running and cycling
Calorie burn rates for 10 km of walking, running and cycling | Source
Rate of energy expenditure for various speeds for walking, running and cycling ( 180 lb person)
Rate of energy expenditure for various speeds for walking, running and cycling ( 180 lb person) | Source
Energy expended by 180 lb person cycling, running and walking for 10 miles.
Energy expended by 180 lb person cycling, running and walking for 10 miles. | Source
Activity
Steps per Minute (equiv)
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 290 lb); 44000 steps
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 270 lb); 48000 steps
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 250 lb); 51000 steps
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 230 lb); 56000 steps
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 210 lb); 61000 steps
Hours to lose one pound (body weight 190 lb); 74000 steps
Walking 2 mph
67
9.6
10.3
11.1
12.1
13.2
14.6
Walking 3 mph
100
6.1
6.5
7.1
7.7
8.4
9.3
Walking 4 mph
152
5.2
5.5
6
6.5
7.1
7.9
Walking 5 mph
242
4.3
4.6
5
5.4
5.9
6.6
Running 10 mph (6 Hours miles)
420
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.9
2
2.3
Running 12 mph (5 Hours miles)
440
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.8
Running 5 mph (12 Hours miles)
242
3.1
3.4
3.6
4
4.3
4.8
Running 6 mph (10 Hours miles)
303
2.6
2.8
3.1
3.3
3.7
4
Running 7 mph (8.5 Hours miles)
348
2.3
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.5
Running 8 mph (7.5 Hours miles)
409
2
2.1
2.3
2.5
2.7
3
Bicycling / biking - mountain
364
3.1
3.4
3.6
4
4.3
4.8
Bicycling / cycling 12-14 mph
121
3
3.3
3.5
3.8
4.2
4.7
Bicycling / cycling 14-16 mph
364
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.5
3.8
Stationary bicycle / spinning - moderate
212
3.8
4.1
4.4
4.8
5.2
5.8
Stationary bicycle / spinning - vigorous
318
2.3
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.6
Swimming - moderate
212
4.4
4.7
5.1
5.5
6
6.7
Swimming - vigorous
303
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.4
3.8
4.1
Aerobics - high impact
242
3.8
4.1
4.4
4.8
5.2
5.8
Aerobics - low impact
197
4.4
4.7
5.1
5.5
6
6.7
Badminton
136
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.5
8.2
9
Basketball - shooting baskets
136
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.5
8.2
9
Basketball full court
242
2.4
2.6
2.8
3.1
3.3
3.7
Bowling
91
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
13.3
Calisthenics / exercise - moderate
106
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.5
8.2
9
Calisthenics / exercise - vigorous
242
3.3
3.5
3.8
4.2
4.6
5
Cooking
61
10.1
10.8
11.7
12.7
13.9
15.4
Croquet
76
10.6
11.4
12.3
13.3
14.6
16.2
Fencing
182
4.5
4.8
5.2
5.6
6.2
6.8
Fishing
91
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
13.3
Football - full contact
242
2.8
3
3.2
3.5
3.8
4.2
Frisbee playing
91
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
13.3
Garden
121
4.9
5.3
5.7
6.2
6.8
7.5
Golf - carry clubs
136
4.4
4.7
5.1
5.5
6
6.7
Golf - pull cart
120
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.5
8.2
9
Handball
364
2.2
2.4
2.6
2.8
3.1
3.4
Hiking
182
4.5
4.8
5.2
5.6
6.2
6.8
Hockey
242
3.3
3.5
3.8
4.2
4.6
5
Horseback riding
121
10.6
11.4
12.3
13.3
14.6
16.2
Hunting
152
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
8.1
Jogging
212
3.8
4.1
4.4
4.8
5.2
5.8
Jumping jacks - moderate
303
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.5
8.2
9
Kayaking
152
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
8.1
Lacrosse
242
3.1
3.4
3.6
4
4.3
4.8
Racquetball casual
212
3.8
4.1
4.4
4.8
5.2
5.8
Raking lawn
121
6.7
7.2
7.8
8.5
9.3
10.2
Rowing machine - moderate
212
3.8
4.1
4.4
4.8
5.2
5.8
Rowing machine - vigorous
258
3
3.3
3.5
3.8
4.2
4.7
Rugby
303
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.5
3.8
Shopping
70
11.2
12
13
14.1
15.4
17.1
Sitting / resting
30
25.1
27
29.2
31.7
34.7
38.4
Skateboarding
152
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
8.1
Skating – moderate (ice)
264
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
8.1
Skating (ice) – vigorous Inline Skating
364
2.9
3.1
3.4
3.7
4
4.4
Ski machine
212
2.8
3
3.2
3.5
3.8
4.2
Skiing - cross country
242
2.3
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.6
Skiing - downhill
182
3
3.3
3.5
3.8
4.2
4.7
Snorkeling
152
5
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.9
7.7
Soccer competitive
212
2.6
2.8
3.1
3.3
3.7
4
Softball or baseball
152
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
8.1
Step aerobics
273
2.5
2.7
2.9
3.2
3.5
3.8
Table tennis
121
6.7
7.2
7.8
8.5
9.3
10.2
Tennis - doubles
212
6.3
6.8
7.3
7.9
8.7
9.6
Tennis - singles
240
4.4
4.7
5.1
5.5
6
6.7
Volleyball
121
7.7
8.3
9
9.8
10.7
11.8
Water Aerobics
121
11.8
12.7
13.7
14.9
16.3
18.1
Lifting Weights - general
121
7.2
7.7
8.3
9.1
9.9
11
Lifting Weights - vigorous
182
7.7
8.3
9
9.8
10.7
11.8
Activity
Steps per Minute (equiv)
Hours to lose one kilogram (body weight 145 kg); 85000 steps
Hours to lose one kilogram (body weight 135 kg); 91000 steps
Hours to lose one kilogram (body weight 125 kg); 98000 steps
Hours to lose one kilogram (body weight 115 kg); 110000 steps
Hours to lose one kilogram (body weight 105 kg); 120000 steps
Walking 3.2 kph
67
19.1
20.5
22.2
24.1
26.4
Walking 4.8 kph
100
12.2
13.1
14.1
15.3
16.8
Walking 6.4 kph
152
10.3
11.1
11.9
13
14.2
Running 8 kph
242
6.3
6.7
7.3
7.9
8.7
Running 9.6 kph
303
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
Running 11.2 kph
348
4.6
5
5.4
5.8
6.4
Running 12.8 kph
409
3.9
4.2
4.6
5
5.4
Running 16 kph
420
3
3.2
3.4
3.7
4.1
Running 19.2 kph
440
2.4
2.6
2.8
3
3.3
Bicycling - Mountain
364
6.3
6.7
7.3
7.9
8.7
Bicycling 19.2-22.4 kph
121
6.1
6.5
7.1
7.7
8.4
Bicycling 22.4-25.6 kph
364
5
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.9
Stationary Bicycle - moderate
212
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.6
10.5
Stationary Bicycle - vigorous
318
4.7
5
5.4
5.9
6.4
Swimming - moderate
212
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
Swimming - vigorous
303
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.8
7.5
Aerobics - high impact
242
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.6
10.5
Aerobics - low impact
197
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
Badminton
136
11.8
12.7
13.7
14.9
16.3
Basketball - shooting baskets
136
11.8
12.7
13.7
14.9
16.3
Basketball full court
242
4.8
5.2
5.6
6.1
6.7
Bowling
91
17.5
18.7
20.2
22
24.1
Calisthenics - moderate
106
11.8
12.7
13.7
14.9
16.3
Calisthenics - vigorous
242
6.6
7.1
7.6
8.3
9.1
Cooking
61
20.1
21.6
23.3
25.3
27.7
Croquet
76
21.1
22.7
24.5
26.6
29.2
Fencing
182
8.9
9.6
10.3
11.2
12.3
Fishing
91
17.5
18.7
20.2
22
24.1
Football - full contact
242
5.5
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.6
Frisbee playing
91
17.5
18.7
20.2
22
24.1
Garden
121
9.8
10.5
11.4
12.3
13.5
Golf - carry clubs
136
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
Golf - cart
120
15.4
16.6
17.9
19.5
21.3
Handball
364
4.4
4.7
5.1
5.6
6.1
Hiking
182
8.9
9.6
10.3
11.2
12.3
Hockey
242
6.6
7.1
7.6
8.3
9.1
Horseback riding - walking
121
21.1
22.7
24.5
26.6
29.2
Hunting
152
10.6
11.3
12.3
13.3
14.6
Jogging
212
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.6
10.5
Kayaking
152
10.6
11.3
12.3
13.3
14.6
Lacrosse
242
6.3
6.7
7.3
7.9
8.7
Racquetball casual
212
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.6
10.5
Raking lawn
121
13.4
14.4
15.5
16.9
18.5
Rowing Machine - moderate
212
7.6
8.1
8.8
9.6
10.5
Rowing Machine - vigorous
258
6.1
6.5
7.1
7.7
8.4
Rugby
303
5
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.9
Shopping
70
22.3
24
25.9
28.1
30.8
Sitting
30
50.2
53.9
58.2
63.3
69.3
Skateboarding
152
10.6
11.3
12.3
13.3
14.6
Skating - moderate
264
10.6
11.3
12.3
13.3
14.6
Skating - vigorous
364
5.8
6.2
6.7
7.3
8
Ski Machine
212
5.5
5.9
6.4
6.9
7.6
Skiing - cross country
242
4.7
5
5.4
5.9
6.4
Skiing - downhill
182
6.1
6.5
7.1
7.7
8.4
Snorkeling
152
10
10.8
11.6
12.7
13.9
Soccer competitive
212
5.3
5.7
6.1
6.7
7.3
Softball or baseball
152
10.6
11.3
12.3
13.3
14.6
Step Aerobics
273
5
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.9
Swimming - moderate
212
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
Swimming - vigorous
303
5.4
5.8
6.3
6.8
7.5
Table tennis
121
13.4
14.4
15.5
16.9
18.5
Tennis - doubles
212
12.5
13.5
14.6
15.8
17.3
Tennis - singles
240
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1
Volleyball - competitive
121
12.2
13.1
14.1
15.3
16.8
Washing car
242
11.8
12.7
13.7
14.9
16.3
Water Aerobics
121
13.4
14.4
15.5
16.9
18.5
Lifting Weights - general
121
15.4
16.6
17.9
19.5
21.3
Lifting Weights - vigorous
182
8.7
9.4
10.1
11
12.1

© 2014 Dr. John Anderson

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Comments 2 comments

Daughter Of Maat profile image

Daughter Of Maat 2 years ago from Rural Central Florida

Very helpful article! I have a Fitbit Force and this really explains how it estimates my calorie burn. Awesome hub!


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Very timely. Everyone is doing a step counting contest at work and the gym. Your information and my information match nicely. Spent the day watching the AMGEN tour of California guess its time to get to the gym so I keep my active status :} Nice work.

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