The pocket pedometer measures the distance you walk and can help motivate you by tracking your performance and progress. Older mechanical versions use a pendulum mechanism that swings with each step to track distance, but they are often highly inaccurate. More sophisticated, modern electronic pedometers typically offer much greater accuracy and additional functions. Your budget, walking habits, and desire for accuracy will help pinpoint which pocket pedometer best suits your needs. Reading online reviews by fellow walkers can also help narrow your choices.
Before shopping for a pocket pedometer, check if there are pedometer applications available for your mobile phone or portable music player; some come with an integrated pedometer. Most electronic pedometers, also called step counters, operate similarly. An inertial sensor detects your steps while a microprocessor interprets the sensor's input to create the data you see. Models with sensors that have 3-axis acceleration detection tend to be more accurate and disregard false steps.
The basic pocket pedometer will only count your steps and provide the distance walked. More elaborate designs include functions such as calorie consumption estimates, memory to save data from previous walks, pulse readers, timers, and stopwatch functions. More sophisticated designs often can more accurately detect the difference between real steps and other non-walking motions.
Regardless of the model you choose, your new pocket pedometer needs to be calibrated by entering the length of your average stride. A rule of thumb some walkers use is 2.2 feet (0.67 meters) for women and 2.5 feet (0.762 meters) for men. It is preferable, however, to enter the best estimate for your steps. Most pedometer manufacturers and websites devoted to walking topics offer advice on getting the most accurate measurement.
Pocket pedometers come in a variety of designs. Those housed in a flip case with an integral lid are less prone to inadvertent button presses. Most inexpensive pedometers have an open-face design in which the display is exposed. Well-designed open-face models protect the controls and buttons from being mistakenly pressed.
Computer-linked pedometers usually have all the functions of a stand-alone pocket step counter, but also have computer connectivity, either using wireless technology or your computer's Universal Serial Bus (USB) port. They let you transfer all your walking data to your computer so you can then assess how you are performing using charts and graphs that track your progress. Some advanced models include software and sensors to track your diet, pulse, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels.