I walked a little over an eighth of a mile while at church today, and a quarter mile while shopping at the grocery store. This second fact probably says less about the size of the store, than it does about my ability to find the items I was looking for. Farro. Is it a grain? A legume?
Back in November when the darkness really took over the day, I started to suspect I wasn't walking as much as I thought I was. I have a job that has me on the go most of the day, but it's in fits and starts, not prolonged activity. To get a more accurate picture of how much exercise I was (or wasn't) getting, I decided to wear a pedometer for a few days.
I very quickly realized that pedometers must have been designed by and for men. Unless you are wearing a belt, the usual clip style pedometer is not going to stay on. Add a winter coat and you'll double your exercise - bending over every few steps to pick the pedometer off the ground. I have the Walking Advantage 340 by Sportline, which allows you to set your stride and decide if you prefer to measure the distance covered or the steps you've taken. These are nice options, but the 1" clip was not enough to keep it attached to the top of my jeans. I wondered if a more expensive model would be better designed, but paying more to get the same information felt ridiculous, so I went the other direction.
I tried the free pedometer I received from my health insurance company. This one comes with the usual clip on the back, but it also has a leash which I hooked around my belt loop. On the plus side, the pedometer stayed on. On the downside, it made an audible click with every step I took. I doubt anyone passing me on the sidewalk would have heard it, but it drove me crazy.
The day after Thanksgiving, I was out on a walk with a local MeetUp group and the conversation turned to walking resolutions. Not surprisingly, this came right after long discussions of what we'd eaten the day before. When I asked if anyone could recommend a good pedometer, I got two enthusiastic replies. The first was for a pedometer put out by Weight Watchers that attaches to your bra strap. This eliminates the falling off problem, and makes it possible to wear the pedometer while swimming (something I'd never considered). Though you do need to be careful which strap you put it on. The woman who owned it said she was racking up great numbers one week, but didn't think she'd been doing that much exercise. The more she thought about it, she realized she'd actually been in her car more than usual that week. Then it hit her. She was getting credit for each time she shifted!
The other recommendation was for the Nike+ system on the iPod nano. She had my attention; I own a nano and use it almost every time I'm out for a walk. I'd seen the Nike emblem on the menu, but had figured it was some sort of tie in with their shoes, so I'd never investigated it before.
One of the things I love about my tiny (and therefor oh so often misplaced) nano, is that it has a tight clip, the size of the device itself on the back. This means I can attach it to the neck of my shirt in summer, the zipper of my heaviest coat in winter, even inside my shirt in case of rain.
Could the pedometer be accurate if I could place it practically anywhere? I clipped my traditional pedometer to my jeans, my nano to my coat and I set out for a walk. The nano never fell off, the pedometer fell repeatedly. At the end of the walk I compared the results. Both told me how many steps I'd taken and the distance I'd travelled in miles. The nano did say that I'd walked two hundredths of a mile more than the pedometer did. The pedometer had been calibrated to my stride, so I'm confident it was the more accurate number, but for me the convenience of the nano was well worth a slight dip in accuracy. I admit it didn't hurt that the inaccuracy was in my favor. In addition, the nano kept track of how long I'd been walking and saved my walk history. This was perfect for me.
I'd be interested to hear what sort of pedometer you use and what you like/dislike about it. Please leave a comment with your opinion.