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General Guidance for Pedometer Use

A digital step counter pedometer is a reasonably accurate and reliable device that can be used for most physical activities for which there is a stepping-motion. These activities include not only walking, but exercise that involves movement of the trunk, hip and legs, such as stair-climbing, cross-country skiing, dancing, house-hold chores, running, and ball sports. There are dozens of models of pedometers. A step-only pedometer is one of the simplest, and requires no calibration or adjustment, other than daily resetting to 0.

Basic instructions for beginners:

  1. Clip the step-counter onto your belt or waistband midway between your side and the crease-line of your shorts/pants. Some authorities suggest placing the step-counter at the side, either in the 3 o'clock or 9 o'clock position. If your pedometer has a strap or leash, attach the leash to your belt to prevent losing the pedometer if it accidentally becomes unclipped.

  2. Reset the step counter to 0 steps before starting your exercise and at the end of each day or exercise session.

  3. For the first 3-4 days, assess your total number of steps and movements during a routine day at home and work. Most relatively sedentary individuals take 1,000 - 3,000 steps per day. After establishing a baseline number of steps per day, some individuals elect to count steps per week, rather than steps per day. Both approaches are acceptable.

  4. With a goal of increasing your steps every day or week, begin an organized and systematic walking program. Your level of progress will depend upon your starting fitness level and health. Most apparently healthy, but sedentary adults can safely add 2,000 steps per day, or approximately one additional mile, the first week. Continue to add steps regularly. At least 10,000 steps per day is a good goal for currently sedentary people.

  5. A healthful level of activity is at least 30 minutes per day of moderate-level physical activity. To achieve a moderate level of activity, increase your walking pace to 6,000-8,000 steps, or 3-4 miles, per hour for at least 30 minutes each day.

* Remember that the total on a step-counter reflects all daily physical activity that involves a stepping-motion or other movement of the trunk, hip and legs. A step-counter can be used as an activity meter, as a testing tool for evaluating walking endurance and distance, and as an educational or motivational tool to encourage physical activity.

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* "Max" used in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Kidswalk-to-School Program


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This page last reviewed: October 21, 2010