A step counter or pedometer measures the approximate amount of steps that a person takes while walking---in a day or in a specific timeframe. A step counter initially records a baseline number of this physical activity and the person then works from this number to increase activity as needed or desired. People use step counters for various reasons including for mobility improvement, to measure calorie burn-off or as part of a training regimen for an event such as a walk-a-thon.
Put on your step counter in the morning after you have prepared for your day to track the number of steps taken in a day; or, if counting to complete a certain number of steps within a specific timeframe, put on before you head out on your walk. Attach your counter via strap or clip to your belt or waistband in line with your left or right knee (approximately two to four inches to either side of your belly button) in an upright (vertical) and level position.
Reset the pedometer. Every brand differs, but your counter should have a button with a "Reset" or "Reset/On" label. Typically, this involves pressing the button once or pressing and holding it until the numbers on the LCD change. If done correctly, a "0" should appear on the display.
Test your step counter. Walk 100 steps. If your counter's display reads within 10 steps above or below 100 (90 or 110), it's working correctly---most counters have approximately a 10-step margin of error. If your counter's display isn't within this range, straighten and/or re-position the counter and test again. If you have excess body fat, move the counter closer to a hipbone before testing. Repeat this testing over the course of three days to confirm that it works properly.
Turn off your counter when finished for the day or walk. Record your steps each day in a tracking log before turning off the counter. If you're tracking the number of steps completed in a specific timeframe, also record your minutes. If your counter maintains an electronic record of your steps, record the information at least once a week in a separate tracking log as a backup in case it malfunctions and loses the information.
Tips & Warnings
- If your counter's display isn't within range and your counter has a sensitivity adjuster, increase the sensitivity for counts much lower than the actual or decrease the sensitivity for counts much higher than the actual range. If you don't know the exact method of adjusting the sensitivity, refer to your specific step counter brand's user guide.
- To increase your walking, change life habits such as walking rather than driving to nearby areas or choosing stairs over elevators.
- Always discuss your walking plan with your doctor before increasing the level of walking. Always increase your walking gradually.
- Never attach your step counter against a hipbone unless you have excess body fat as doing so can throw off the count.
- Never attach your step counter at a diagonal angle (for example, on a side pocket or twisted on your belt or waistband). Doing so can also produce a count higher or lower than the actual range.
- Walking up or down a hill at with your body at an angle, vibrations and bending can cause a false higher than actual range count.
- Never expose your step counter to moisture or temperature extremes.
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