Take Your Stride to the Next Step With a Pedometer

So you've started a steady walking or running routine. What's next? Tracking your progress from day to day will help you move forward and reach the next level of fitness. There are many ways to do this, and a pedometer can help.

Pedometers: What They Are and How They Help

Pedometers--essentially step counters--are a common tool for walkers and runners looking to step up their stride. Through a built-in sensor, pedometers can measure your movements, count your steps, and calculate the distance you walk or run.

Some pedometers also feature pulse rate monitors or calorie counters to track how many calories you've burned. Most pedometers also have a memory functionality, which allows you to save information over time. With this data, you can see your progress in a given week and focus on areas that need improvement.

Pedometers can be a great motivator to keep you consistent with your plan. Studies have shown that people who use pedometers stay accountable and are more eager to set and reach their goals.

"A pedometer can be useful if you're a real beginner and want to get a baseline of how active you are," said Jeff Salvage, walking expert and founder of racewalk.com and walkinghealthy.com. "It can be a good way to monitor a relative fitness level and set a goal."

If you find that you walk 2,000 steps a day, you can set a goal to reach 3,000 the next week and so on, he said. People become more conscious of their daily routines and focus on new ways to be active such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

However, Salvage warns that pedometers can be very difficult to calibrate and inaccurate depending on where you are walking.

"A person's stride might be longer or shorter walking on a trail than on pavement," Salvage said. "If you're someone who doesn't keep a steady pace, your stride is constantly going to change."

To avoid potential inaccuracies, it is important to know how to use your pedometer.

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