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Tips for Choosing and Using a Pocket Pedometer

Updated on September 28, 2011

Buying a Pocket Pedometer

Whether you've set a fitness level you want to achieve or you're trying to lose weight, a pocket pedometer can help you achieve your goal. These devices can provide the feedback you need to know when you're on target, progressing, or need to strive harder. Some are only basic step counters and others offer more, but either way they get the job done and won't break your budget.

Learn more about how to select a pocket pedometer and see some good ones on this page.

Buying Tips

There are a number of pocket pedometers on the market from a variety of manufacturers. Before you buy, you might want to consider just a few things:

  • Accuracy
    Nearly any pedometer will have a certain amount of inaccuracy based on how sophisticated it is in measuring your movements. Some devices will report accuracy within 10% +/- and others 5% +/-. Checking reviews can also help you determine the accuracy of a given device. Consumer Reports for instance routinely assesses such products.

    Some of the least expensive pedometers and step counters will measure movement with a simple spring. Other high end models, will use GPS or perhaps accelerometers. These devices are especially good if you don't want to worry about keeping it held in a horizontal plane. A good pocket pedometer should function in any plane so that you can carry it in a bag or pocket without this concern.

  • Display
    You'll probably want a large display, and potentially one that is backlit to assure it's easy to read in any lighting condition.

  • Functions
    Any pocket pedometer should record and display the number of steps you have taken. Most will also report the number of minutes you've been walking. Some other available functions include an estimate of caloric use, the distance traveled, and with more expensive devices, your pulse rate.

    Some of these devices may also include a clock and stop watch.

    Some models will auto reset at midnight. Some of the higher end devices will also provide enough memory to store your performance information over a seven day period. It may even have software that will allow you to track your activity weekly, monthly and even yearly to monitor your progress.

  • Power
    A pocket pedometer or step counter is battery powered. This means you will likely need to replace the battery to keep it running. First, be sure the battery is replaceable. Second, determine the estimated battery life. Some devices will even have a sleep mode or perhaps an automatic shut off to conserve battery power.

Tips for Using Your Pocket Pedometer

For most people, the purpose of one of these devices is to monitor how far you have walked and to provide feedback to help you reach goals to increase that amount.

Some studies show that walking is a great activity for maintaining fitness, helping to build/maintain bone, and to control weight. Only you and your physician can determine exactly what your goals should be and how far you should walk. However, 4.5miles/day (around 9,000 steps) is the minimum recommended in general.

For many of these pocket pedometers, it is important to assure that you carry them appropriately. Many have to be held horizontal to the ground and are best used in-line with your knee. When first using the device, check it to be sure it is counting the steps correctly. If not, you may need to adjust how you are carrying or wearing it.

Once you know the steps you are taking per day, you can easily set a goal to gradually increase this number. Below you will learn more about tips to help you walk for fitness.

Walking for Fitness


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    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 8 years ago

      Nice, but I like the watch style better.

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 8 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      I take a lot of walks. This is something I have considered on buying.