Step It Up with Pedometers and Fitness Trackers
By Katherine Wernet
As a studio or gym owner, you can see how popular fitness trackers have become. It seems just about everyone has one of these devices to help count steps and calories burned. We wanted to take a look at how the fitness tracker trend got started—with the humble pedometer.
How does a pedometer help people reach their fitness goals?
Pedometers are devices that count the steps you take throughout the day. Seeing your daily step count can give you an idea of how active you are in a given day and give motivating feedback to help you achieve a daily step goal. Research has shown pedometer users can boost their physical activity (by 26.9% in this study) and experience significant decreases in blood pressure and body mass index—simply by wearing the device and walking more.
How do pedometers work?
The earliest pedometers were mechanical and had moving parts that moved as you walked. With each movement of the internal parts, step count would increase. Traditional pedometers only count the number of steps you've taken and can estimate the distance you've walked, jogged, or run by multiplying your step length by the number of steps taken. These basic devices are best worn clipped to one's belt or pants for the most accurate reading.
Pedometers offer an approximation of how many steps you take a day. The count may not be perfectly accurate, but it can be enough to motivate you to get up and get moving.
How many pedometer steps per day are enough?
The number of steps you should take per day can vary based on how active you've been in the past and what your fitness goals are. Often, the goal is 10,000 steps. The guideline of 10,000 steps a day doesn't have the scientific origin you may assume it has, though. This number comes from the marketing campaign of the original wearable pedometer from a Japanese manufacturer in the 1960s. The step tracker was called manpo-kei, which translates to "10,000-step meter." There was no research that went into picking this number initially, but it has certainly become the dominant recommendation.
Fitbit uses 10,000 steps as the default goal because it meets the US Department of Health and Human Services recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, which 44% of American adults are failing to meet.
Can you use a pedometer to track activities other than walking, running, and jogging?
Pedometers help keep track of your total steps and the distance you've walked, jogged, or run in a day. If you're doing a step class or another class that focuses on fancy footwork, you may get some satisfaction from checking your pedometer stats, too.
How do today's fitness trackers compare to a pedometer?
For insights into your heart rate and the number of calories you've burned during exercise, you're better off with a more high-tech device. Today's activity trackers, like those made by Fitbit, can tell you the distance you've traveled over the course of the day with the help of newer technology—think GPS and accelerometers. These devices keep track of your heart rate, estimate the calories you've burned, and even tell you how many flights of stairs you've climbed.
Many of today's trackers can recognize different types of exercise and will count calories burned accordingly, giving a more accurate view of one's workout effort.
You spend a lot of time working to motivate your clients. If activity trackers help your clients reach their goals, then you want to do everything you can to boost the effort! This is where your fitness software comes in.
With the MINDBODY app integration, your clients can sync their Fitbit or Apple Watch and see their hard work within the app! Each time they book a class or session and exercise with you, the MINDBODY app shows them just how much effort they put in, motivating them to continue to smash their fitness goals.
Yesteryear's pedometers got us walking; today's fitness trackers got us running. We’ve come so far, don’t you think?