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Counting your steps towards better health one step at a time

Using a pedometer to count your steps proves more valuable to your overall health than walking for a predetermined amount of time.

Using a pedometer to count the number of steps you take can provide immediate feedback and motivation towards your goal of a healthier life. Recent scientific studies have found that counting your steps with pedometers allows users to meet the weekly physical activity guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (U.S. Surgeon General), and the American College of Sports Medicine. In fact, counting your steps may prove more effective than walking for a set period of time.

A study out of Arizona State University found that subject who accumulated 10,000 steps per day were as likely to meet the current guidelines as guidelinesas those who accumulated at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise. And 10,000 steps may not be necessary to meet those guidelines.A separate study, out of the Cooper Institute in Dallas Texas, found that previously sedentary post-menopausal women could meet 100 percent of the activity guidelines in as few as 5500 steps.

Getting the right type of pedometer is critical for the elderly and those who walk slower than three miles per hour. A study published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine found that less expensive, spring-levered pedometers often had an accuracy rate around 50 percent at low walking speeds. The most accurate, over 97%, are pedometers which use piezoelectric accelerometers for measurement while more expensive provide much more accurate recordings (down to speeds of 1.0 mph) and are the type commonly used for scientific testing.

A search of the Internet for a piezoelectric pedometer or accelerometer will yield a vast array of results. A brand commonly used in research and which is reasonably priced is the New Lifestyles model NL2000 that retails for between $50.00 and $75.00. So get up, get out, and start counting those steps. A pedometer will be a useful tool to use towards improving your health - one step at a time.

Written by Dr. Sternlicht for on 10.01.05