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The Most Accurate Pedometers

Research compares pedometers for accuracy

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Updated June 30, 2014

10000 Pedometer Steps

10000 Pedometer Steps

Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

How accurate is your pedometer? Are you really walking 10,000 steps per day? Pedometers have been from the older designs with spring-lever and pendulum mechanisms to those that use a piezo-electric mechanism, and to accelerometers built into mobile devices.

Two studies found that piezo-electric mechanisms were more accurate for counting steps in both children and overweight adults. The old-style spring mechanisms are affected by tilt, while newer designs of dual-axis and tri-axis accelerometers are not affected by tilt and can be worn in a wider variety of positions.

A study of the tri-axial piezo-electric pedometers found they are less accurate when carried in a pocket and when walking at very slow speed or very high speeds. They were generally accurate within 5%, which is 500 steps in 10,000 steps, when worn on the waist, lanyard or armband while walking at a moderate pace.
More: How Accurate Are Pocket Pedometers?

A study of the calories-burned accuracy of activity monitors including fitness bands found that the best of them were accurate to 9% and one performed poorly with an accuracy variation of over 23%. The study compared the BodyMedia FIT, Fitbit Zip, Fitbit One, Nike FuelBand, Jawbone UP, Basis B1 Band and others.
More: How Accurate are Activity Monitors for Calories Burned?

Accuracy Study of 13 Pedometers

Researchers at the University of Tennessee put thirteen pedometers to the test to see which were the most accurate for counting steps when worn all day. The study was published in 2004.

Previous research had shown the Yamax 200 to be the most accurate in lab conditions for counting steps and estimating distance. The test subjects wore the Yamax 200 on one hip and the test pedometers on the other hip to compare step totals. The test subjects logged an average of 9244 steps a day, nearly the goal of 10,000 steps promoted by several pedometer walking programs.

Most Accurate Pedometers For Daily Step Counting

These models matched the standard pedometer

Underestimated Steps

If you use one of these pedometers, you may be walking more steps than it counts.
  • Accusplit Alliance 1510
  • Freestyle Pacer Pro (discontinued 2010)
  • Colorado on the Move
  • Yamax Skeletone EM-180
  • Sportline 345 - Review

Overestimated Steps

If you use one of these pedometers, you may not be walking as many steps as it records.

Next: Most Accurate Pedometers for Distance and Calories

Source:

Wonil Park, Victor J. Lee, Byungmo Ku, and Hirofumi Tanaka. "Walking Speed and Placement Position Interactions in the Accuracy of Various Newer Pedometers." Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness, online April 3, 2014

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