Walking the walk to test the best pedometers
Taking 10,000 steps a day is touted as an ideal fitness goal, and a pedometer can be an inexpensive incentive to help you get moving.
A recent study from Stanford University found that people who use a pedometer walk about a mile more each day than those who don't.
Consumer Reports just tested a handful of popular pedometers, GPS watches and cell phone apps that claim to measure steps and distance through movement – for as low as $3.
Testers found several to recommend after logging close to 100 outdoor miles, counting more than 120,000 steps on a treadmill and climbing nearly 3,000 stairs.
The most elaborate are GPS watches, which can cost big bucks. GPS watches use satellites to measure distance, so they're highly accurate outdoors.
"But for $200 to $300, they might be more than a typical walker really needs," Jamie Hirsh of Consumer Reports said.
GPS models are pricier and measure distance outdoors via satellite information. Since GPS watches track distance, not steps, they can also be used for biking and, in some cases, swimming.
The Nike+ Sport Watch GPS and Garmin Forerunner 210 were excellent overall. The Timex Ironman is also very accurate, but bulkier than other models.
But for a fraction of the cost, conventional pedometers do the same job. Many clip right on your waistband.
The $30 Mio Trace is top-rated, is easy to use and rated excellent for accuracy. It also has added features like a calorie counter, stopwatch, and a regular watch.
The $8 basic Sportline Step and Distance from Walmart also rated very good for accuracy.
The phone apps measure steps by sensing body motion. They may take more trial and error to use, but also cost the least.
Two out of three cell phone apps tested very good for accuracy and were easy to use. For Android phones, try the Accupedo Pedometer widget. If you have an iPhone, testers liked the Pedometer PRO GPS plus. These both go for about $4.
The exception was the Max CA Apps, which sells for $1, didn't perform well.
If you need to precisely track your speed and distance, consider getting a GPS watch. But the average walker probably doesn't need one. The phone apps use a lot of battery power, and the GPS watches need to be recharged, similar to a cell phone.
Dietitian and exercise physiologist Ashley Charlebois says walking is an easy way to improve your health.
"We all know the health benefits that are associated with physical activity in general. There's so much research now showing a dose response relationship between increased levels of physical exercise and decreased levels of disease," she said.
And in Vancouver, where seawall hugs most of the city, it's also a way to get in shape and take in some scenery.
"It's just fun to just get outside and be in the sun, so walking is a good way to do something affordable and getting some health benefits out of it as well," Charlebois said.
Check out the top rated pedometers tonight with Lynda Steele on CTV News…