Can Pedometers Measure All Types of Activity?

Can Pedometers Measure All Types of Activity?

What do pedometers measure?

Electronic pedometers detect movement through a spring loaded, counter-balanced mechanism that records vertical acceleration at the hip. Pedometers measure the number of steps a person takes throughout the day.

Can pedometers measure all types of activity?

No, pedometers can't measure all types of activity. Because the pedometer is not waterproof, it can't measure swimming activity. Also, the pedometer doesn't accurately measure activities on wheels such as bicycling, skateboarding, and rollerblading. Since most of the activity people accumulate is overland, pedometers are still one of the best ways to measure physical activity for young and old alike.

Walk4Life pedometers are one of the few brands of pedometers that measure exercise time. Every time a person moves, the pedometer starts accumulating time. When the person stops, the timing function stops. This is the most accurate measure by pedometers because it is not affected by stride length or movement speed. At the end of the day, the total amount of exercise time accumulated is displayed in hours and minutes. Another reason this may be the best measure to use for monitoring activity is that it corresponds to most of the activity guidelines for adults and children. These guidelines are all listed in minutes of activity per day. For example, the NASPE Activity Guidelines for Children by Corbin and Pangrazi (2004) recommend 60 minutes or more of physical activity every day of the week.

How many steps should children accumulate everyday?

A common approach is a “one standard fits all” approach. A standard for children that is often mentioned is 11,000 steps/day for girls and 13,000 steps/day for boys. This standard is used for the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PCPFS, 2004) which is awarded to students who meet these daily standards over a six-week period.

The problem with a single standard goal is that it doesn't take into account the substantial individual differences between people of all ages and gender. A predisposition to be active may make it much easier for some students to reach the step criteria while others may find it next to impossible because they are naturally less active.

A better approach is the baseline and goal-setting technique (Pangrazi, Beighle, & Sidman, 2003). This method requires that each individual identify their average daily activity (baseline) level. For elementary school youngsters this requires four days of monitoring pedometer step counts (or activity time) and for adolescents and adults, 8 days of activity monitoring (Trost, et al., 2000). After the baseline level of activity has been established, each individual has a reference point for setting a personal goal. The personal goal is established by taking the baseline activity level and adding 10 percent more steps to that level. This baseline and goal setting approach takes into consideration the fact that all individuals are unique. It gradually increases personal goals so they seem achievable to even inactive individuals.

How are pedometers used in the Jump Into Action curriculum?

JIA has 13 lessons for the physical education teacher to use to teach the basics of the pedometer. JIA uses the baseline and goal setting approach to encourage students to gradually increase their level of activity. After the students learn to use the pedometers to increase their activity during PE class, the pedometers are moved to the classroom where the students establish a baseline level of activity and set goals to increase activity during the school day. Students can then, check out pedometers to set goals to increase activity at home.

How many pedometers do schools need to purchase?

Ideally schools would purchase one pedometer for every 5th grade student to be used in PE, during the school day, and even outside of school. However, for schools that have limited funding it is suggested to start with enough pedometers to be used during the PE class period. For most schools this would be 30-50 pedometers.

How much do they cost?

The retail cost of the Walk4Life Pedometer is $21. However, schools that purchase the Walk4Life pedometers for use in the Jump Into Action program pay only $8.

How can schools raise money to purchase pedometers?

School Budget: Funds may be available in the school budget for PE curriculum support materials.

PTA/PTO: The PTA/PTO may have funds for special programs to benefit the students.

Fundraising in the community: Purchase pedometers at a significant saving through the Walk4Life ShareWear Program, then sell them to area businesses, parents and churches. Involve the community in wearing pedometers to help increase physical activity and use the profit to purchase pedometers for the school. Find information about the program at:

Private donations: Seek donations from a local banker, retailer, hospital or any other business that wants the opportunity to support their local community and school.

Apply for a grant: Federal, private and educational grants are available for school programs that help kids lead healthier, more active lives.