The study found that all of the pedometers recorded too many steps at slower speeds, but improved when walking at faster speeds. The researchers used a treadmill and visually counted steps to compare what was recorded by the pedometers. They also placed pedometers on each hip and compared the totals between them to see how reliable they were in tracking the same motion by the same person.
Most Accurate PedometersThese pedometers recorded steps with 99% accuracy:
- Yamax Digi-Walker SW-200 - Review
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Accuracy for DistanceSix of the pedometers calculated distance, which most of them did with 90% accuracy at a moderate walking pace, but were less reliable with a slow walking pace of 2 miles per hour. Distance accuracy depends on taking the same step length each time, as well as being able to accurately measure that step length and input it into the pedometer. These variables make pedometers less reliable at estimating distance vs. counting steps.
Accuracy for CaloriesPedometers use the walker's weight and the steps and distance to estimate calories burned. The researchers noted that it was unclear whether the pedometers were displaying net calories (the additional calories you burn by walking vs. what you would have burned sitting on the couch) or if they are displaying gross calories (not deducting the calories you would have burned just sitting around). If they display net calories, they are overestimating the amount significantly. If they are displaying gross calories they are still only accurate to 70% Think twice before deciding to treat yourself based on the numbers displayed.
Crouter SE, Schneider PL, Bassett DR Jr. "Spring-levered versus piezo-electric pedometer accuracy in overweight and obese adults." Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2005 Oct;37(10):1673-9.
Nakae S, Oshima Y, Ishii K. "Accuracy of spring-levered and piezo-electric pedometers in primary school Japanese children". J Physiol Anthropol. 2008 Sep;27(5):233-9.
Crouter, Schneider, Karabulut and Bassett, "Validity of 10 Electronic Pedometers for Measuring Steps, Distance, and Energy Cost." Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 35 (10), 17791784. August, 2003.
Crouter, Schneider, Karabulut and Bassett, "Pedometer Measures of Free-Living Physical Activity: Comparison of 13 Models." Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 36(2):331-335, February 2004.