Just like a camera, the best pedometer is the one you always have with you — whether its counter is limited to basic steps or advanced enough to cover sleep patterns, stress levels, and heart rates. Determining whether or not you need a pedometer depends on how intent you are on living an active lifestyle and how much you wish to move around on a day-to-day basis while quantifying that movement. Most people have no idea how much they move around during a typical day and whether that activity contributes to a healthy lifestyle.
Pedometers can help determine that by providing step-count data, and calculating other key metrics like total distance traveled and calories. The job of the simplest pedometer is to count your steps — full stop. Pedometers come in various shapes, styles, sizes, and formats. Look for features that are meaningful to you and that you need and intend to use. If a pedometer is too complex and intimidating to set up, or tracks more things than you will reasonably use, it will sit on your dresser and count nothing at all.
How to choose a pedometer
When choosing a pedometer, the first thing to do is figure out how you want to wear it. They come in a variety of styles designed for your wrist, for your neck, or for clipping to your clothing. If you plan to wear your pedometer all the time, it needs to stand up to your daily activities. Choose a water-resistant or waterproof model if you plan to wear it while swimming or bathing. Most pedometers are basic devices that provide you with simple data. Many smartphones also include internal sensors that can keep track of steps, though it’s not always possible to keep your cell phone that close by. A pedometer, on the other hand, is smaller and easy to wear all day so it doesn’t miss a step.
For the most accurate step count, wear a pedometer close to your body. A slim, lightweight pedometer is the most comfortable, and the hard data can motivate you to set, meet, and surpass goals. Simple pedometers — models that provide only step data — are fairly inexpensive. More expensive models are more durable with elaborate features like automatic activity recognition and the ability to record steps with different stride lengths. Conventional pedometers count steps by detecting movement. Some also calculate calories and distance based on weight and stride length that you can program into the device. GPS models are more expensive — ranging in price from $200 to $300 — and measure distance outdoors using satellite information.
Smartphone apps measure steps by detecting body motion. They may take more trial and error to use, but also cost the least — as little as $4 or less. If you run, walk, bike, or swim and want to precisely track your distance and speed, consider getting a GPS watch. But if you’re just measuring walking steps, you probably doesn’t need one.
And if a pedometer isn’t quite going to do it for you, be sure to check out our roundup of fitness trackers.
Fitbit Zip Wireless Activity Tracker
Fitbit, one of the most famous names in mobile fitness, has many varieties of pedometer, and its wireless activity tracker is among the most popular devices available to track steps, distance, and calories. Use it to set goals, view progress, and earn badges. It syncs with your computer or, via a free iOS or Android app, to smartphones or tablets and to your Fitbit account. Share your results and compete with friends every day as you build strength and stamina. Not crazy about Fitbits? No problem. Have a look at our roundup of Fitbit alternatives.
3DFitBud 3D Pedometer
If you don’t need anything too elaborate and just want to keep track of your steps, this 3D pedometer has your name on it. For steps only, it’s ready to use right away and is great for both kids and adults who seek to stay motivated toward their fitness goals. It counts your steps so you can view your progress with a full-screen display that lets you clearly and easily read the numbers at a glance. Just press the button and the advanced 3D tri-axis sensor technology accurately reads steps from any position — up, down, sideways, or at any angle. The pedometer auto-sleeps when you are not moving and automatically wakes and counts steps when you resume activity.
Omron Tri-Axis Pedometer
The Omron pedometer lets you put a little variety into your step. With four activity modes, you can track regular steps, aerobic steps, distance, and calories burned with an automatic setup each day. The device’s tri-axis technology counts steps accurately regardless of where it is positioned and stores up to seven days of information.
Bellabeat Leaf Health Tracker
Not all pedometers are made of hard plastic with digital readouts. Some actually look like modern jewelry that you can wear unobtrusively around your neck or wrist. Bellabeat Leaf products, designed with healing crystals, are worn close to the body like other pedometers, but look stylish rather than utilitarian. Leaf products can track your steps, distance moved, calories burned, sleep patterns, reproductive health, and stress to help you create a holistic mind-body balance. The 24-hour tracker does not need charging and includes a battery that lasts for six months. Bellabeat Leaf products come in various patterns and can sync with your iOS or Android mobile device.
Xiaomi Mi Band 3 Smart Bracelet
Use the Mi Band 3 fitness bracelet to record your activity levels, such as steps, distance, pace, calories burned, active minutes, and sleep. This versatile instrument tracks light or deep sleep, heart rate, and even the three-day weather forecast. The device features 5ATM water resistance that works well up to 5 meters underwater — so no worries about showers, washing, rain, swimming, and surfing. You can adjust your sports mode for detailed statistical analysis, distance measurements, speed calculation, pace tracking, and real-time heart rate monitoring. Alongside the MiFit app for iOS or Android, which handles data syncing, you can check your stats daily, weekly, and monthly. The device has a large OLED display, and vibrates reminders, calls, messages, and social media notifications, including on-screen details, like message content and name or caller ID.
OZO Fitness CS1
This user-friendly 3D activity tracker is for steps only, and is ready to run straight out of the box. As a budget-friendly basic tracker, the CS1 motivates you to exercise and build up stamina. You’re in control, so it’s up to you when to reset your count to zero — without the aid of computers or Bluetooth. You can use it in a pocket, backpack, or purse, or wear it around your neck with the included lanyard cord for accurate street tracking. Its large, full-screen display makes it easy to read your step counts with a quick glance. The CS1 features an auto-dimming screen to lower power usage when idle. Once the pedometer detects movement it springs to life, ready to capture your steps once more.