As I’ve discussed before, pedometers are the least feature-oriented of the fitness tracking beasts. In general, they don’t hook up to your phone or a website that syncs data for you to track over a long period. They may have an internal memory that saves several days worth of data for comparison, but they aren’t going to store months of information. Considering the purposeful simplicity for these devices, what features do they need to be useful?
Quite frankly, I think that the only thing that a pedometer absolutely has to do is count steps. It’s what they are primarily designed to do, and I feel that devices like this that tend to offer a lot of unnecessary features lose precision in the things that they were made to actually do.
Ditch The Unreliable Features
Some pedometers offer features like calories burned calculators, but I don’t think that those are necessary for several reason.
Obviously, knowing how many calories that you have burned is good information to have, but it’s almost impossible to get an accurate reading of calories burned unless you also have an accurate reading of heart rate. Pedometers aren’t sophisticated enough to be able to predict heart rate, and they’re made to be small without extra wires. A chest-mounted heart rate monitor would be an uncomfortable distraction in this set up.
A Few Extras That Might Help
Distance count, on the other hand, could help even if it doesn’t get synced up to a server that allows you to check it again later. The steps are important, but the ability to check your distance helps if you decide to train for longer events like 5Ks or half marathons.
A memory is also good because it lets you set goals to beat. If I know I walked 10,200 steps yesterday, I am going to want to walk at least 10,201 today. Obviously, I will want to walk a whole lot more than that, but I’m going to want to beat it by a minimum of one.
I’m not interested in backing up data from my pedometer to my computer because it just isn’t meant to serve that purpose for me. A memory of a week or less would be enough to illustrate my activity so that I could see which days I really dropped the ball while also balancing it with days when I basically took over the sidewalk. I don’t need a year’s worth of data to know that this week was better than last.
Another handy feature is the second/third counter. The biggest issue with pedometers aside from accuracy on cheaper units is that they often miss movements that are not clearly steps back and forth in a walking pattern. If you’re climbing stairs, on an elliptical or doing something similar that is a more animated movement, you should be able to get credit for it.
Adjust Your Step
More than anything with most pedometers, I think the handiest feature that they offer is that some of them allow you to adjust your step for the different kinds of movements that you may have. For instance, your stride is different when you’re running on a treadmill than when you’re running outside. Being able to adjust the stride between regular and irregular movement is a fairly big deal because it encourages you to ensure that you are not only counting the correct amount of steps, but that you aren’t taking credit for more steps than you actually took.