Choosing a Pedometer or Walking App

There is a lot of press about the health benefits of getting more walking steps into your daily routine. So, how do you know you are getting more steps?

There are several ways to measure your daily activity. The most common is a pedometer. More recently, iPhone and Android developers have put out dozens of apps that can measure and record your progress as well. So let’s take a look at some of the ways I have been measuring my daily progress lately. 

1. Old School:

I have measured my standard walking gait, (you can too). Mine is about 2 feet 4 inches. Since, I know this distance, I can take walks that I also know the distance of, such as from home to the train. I can divide the distance by the length of my steps. 

So, the train is 3/4 of a mile away. It take me 2,260 steps to walk a mile. Thus, a walk to the train talks 2,260 * .75. Rounded up that i s 1700 step… Voila. That is way to go old school. 

2. Mechanical/Analog:

I have used an analog pedometer, a device that measures the distance a person travels on foot. While current pedometers are precise electronic tools, this was not always the case. Actual pedometers are over 200 years old, and the concept of a pedometer still hundreds older.  Romans used tools to measure how far their armies walked. Leonardo DaVinci in the 15th century, imagined them. Thomas Jefferson is generally credited with inventing the modern pedometer. Then in 1930s it became a much more popular. In America the devices were popular with runners and with those who walked long distances.

You can find very inexpensive pedometers that use this very same technology today. 

3. Transition to the Transistor:

Most of the pedometers our there have switched over to electronic operation, this meant that pedometers weighed less and could keep a more accurate track of distance traveled. However, even these pedometers paled in comparison to modern, digital pedometers.

I have tried some of the newest breed of pedometer that quite sophisticated. Some use electronic sensors called accelerometers other use global positioning systems and a few successfully use both. Some of the ones I’ve tOried include Omron HJ-112 (~$30), Accusplit AE190XLG (~$35) and Garmin Forerunner 205 (~$180). 

4. The Modern Walker:

The most interesting development is that the new breed of smart phones contain an accelerometer and global position systems. Consequently, Android and iPhone developers have created pedometer and distance apps that can in some cases be a sturdy alternative to the stand alone electronic devices. Currently, there are several drawbacks that keep Apps from being a direct replacement to the stand alone devices, these include battery life, interruption of the counting your steps when using other features like taking a call. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to turn it back on after the call!!

That being said, they are quite fun to use; they do not require a separate device; and they provide a new level of connectivity that make them ready for social networking, sharing and fun.

I have tried several apps including RunKeeper, Walkmeter, Pedometer Pro and Footsteps. RunKeeper is primarily been designed for more active pursuits (I have used it for skiing as well as walking). It measure the distance and the time, it uses a GPS and creates maps of your journey. Walkmeter also has a mapping feature and measure distance. But neither is a pedometer in the sense that it measure steps, however, measuring things like elevation and routes is great fun and adds to the challenge.

Footsteps and Pedometer Pro are traditional in that they measure steps, but they do much more. They save your history, allow you to take notes and Pedometer Pro has a nifty Body Sizing feature. 

I also use Nike+, which combines the stand along pedometer, but with a twist of it communicating your activity to you smart phone. 

All of these apps also offers the ability to send your activities to update info on their proprietary sites, your Facebook and Twitter.

This is the part, we at MamboWalk, find the most compelling. We are most interested in social and gaming aspect, because this opens a whole new way to look at how people encourage, motivate and reward one another. So, try some of these out and see how it goes. Try making a game of it, challenge friends and reward yourself or a charity for your hard work. 

Stay tuned to for another way to make charitable giving fun and rewarding.

MamboWalk is a game you play every day to help you improve your health and make a difference in the world. Team up with friends to get fit, help charities and earn points to bid on cool stuff. Are you game? It all starts with taking that first step.