How Do Pedometers Work?

How many steps do you think you take in a day? Even though you might not go out jogging, you will be surprised to find out the mileage that you make just by walking around the house and taking care of daily tasks. Walking is one of the best ways to improve health and fitness, especially if you don’t have enough free time to hit the gym. While most people underestimate the number of calories they burn while walking, using a nifty device called a pedometer will help you see just how effective walking is.

How Do Pedometers Work?

Essentially, a pedometer records all the steps that you walk. There are two types of pedometers: spring-levered and piezoelectric. The first type uses a spring-suspended horizontal lever arm that automatically moves up and down in response to your movement.

Basically, the spring-levered pedometer will respond to the movement of your hips as you walk or run. As the lever arm makes contact, a step will be registered. We also want to mention that spring-levered pedometers need to be placed in a vertical plane because otherwise, they will not respond to vertical accelerations (caused by the hips).

On the other hand, we have the piezoelectric pedometer. What makes this pedometer different is the fact that it generates an electric charger whenever it is mechanically deformed. The way that this works is that the device will use a horizontal cantilevered beam that features a weight on its end, which will compress a piezoelectric crystal whenever you walk. When the crystal is subjected to movement, it will generate a voltage that is directly proportional to the acceleration.

How Accurate are Pedometers?

Even though counting steps through spring-suspended horizontal lever arms and piezoelectric crystals might seem super complicated, it’s not that difficult. Basically, a pedometer will measure your steps by using your body swings from side to side as you walk.

On the downside of things, the pedometer is not the most accurate devices. The reason behind this is that they only provide an approximate measurement of how many steps you are taking. The pedometer will sometimes count false movements as walking, such as driving, for example. The rule of thumb that you need to follow when using pedometers is to assume that there is a 10% error. However, the top pedometer manufacturers are claiming that their devices have a 5% accuracy error.

How to Correctly Wear the Pedometer

If you want to improve the accuracy of your pedometer, you need to make sure that you are wearing the device correctly. Most pedometers are equipped with a belt clipper. Therefore, you should attach the device to your belt in order to help it detect all side-to-side tilting motion of your body to register each step correctly. We want to highlight that placing the pedometer in your purse, pocket, or backpack is not a good idea. The device will have a difficult time counting steps, and the results will be inaccurate.

Pedometers vs. Step Tracker Apps

Nowadays, almost every smartphone is equipped with a built-in step tracker app. While these apps do a great job of counting steps and providing users with an estimation of how many miles they walked, they pale compared to pedometers. The old-fashioned pedometers can be clipped onto belts or even worn as a wristband to provide the most accurate readings. Nonetheless, a step tracker app accurate enough to help you stay motivated to achieve the 10,000 or higher daily step goal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a pedometer do?

The pedometer is a useful device that can be worn on a belt or on the wrist to help users get an accurate reading of their steps.

How many miles are 10,000 steps?

The answer is 5 miles. The average person has a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet. Therefore, they need to walk over 2,000 steps for one mile and 10,000 steps for 5 miles.

Will a pedometer work in your pocket?

Almost all pedometers are designed to be clipped on your belt or worn on your wrist. They will not work if you keep them in a pocket. The reason behind this is that pedometers rely on the user’s movement, and by staying in the pocket, the pedometer will not respond to accelerations and swings.

Can I wear a pedometer on my ankle?

Even though traditional pedometers are designed to be clipped on your belt or worn on your wrist, the newer models can be worn on your ankle.