by Karl LenserAt first, I was skeptical of the benefits that would be obtained by wearing a small, plastic device that measures the number of steps that one traverses throughout the course of the day. However, after having this device attached to my hip for approximately 17 hours per day over the past seven months, I have developed a “pedometer addiction.” I am now convinced that these inexpensive devices can become a powerful tool in an individual’s exercise program.

The Omron HJ-720IT pedometer was introduced at Hendrix College in January when employees were offered an opportunity to save on their health insurance premiums by enrolling in a wellness program. One of the programs on the wellness “menu” included the use of a pedometer and a health improvement plan that featured a goal for participants to accumulate 10,000 steps per day.

As a result, the pedometer monster was unleashed on the Hendrix campus. Within a few weeks, employees all over campus were sporting a new fashion accessory that was gray, black and purple and weighed about four ounces. Pedometer fever spread quickly throughout campus and normal pleasantry exchanges (“Hi, how’s it going?”) between employees were replaced by “How many steps do you have?”

I even received several emails from a few competitive “Type A” employees across campus that were simply signed with their step count that they had accumulated during the day. John Doe was replaced by 6,865. I realized that this program was definitely making an impact on the daily lives of employees that were wearing a pedometer.

As I stated earlier, I initially thought the pedometers would not trigger the kind of response the wellness program experts predicted and they would end up mothballed with other exercise or wellness devices (Thighmasters, Ab Chairs and treadmills that have morphed into $1,000 laundry drying racks). Fortunately, I was wrong on my prediction because the pedometer has become a very strong tool that has motivated a significant number of Hendrix employees to become creative in finding ways to move and burn calories.

The pedometer allows users to set the current time, one’s body weight (for calorie calculation) and stride length. The unit will calculate how many normal steps taken per day and the number of aerobic steps per day which is based on the speed that one walks and the duration of the walk at that given pace. It will also calculate the number of calories burned per day and the amount of fat that was burned in the course of a day.

Many employees were quite pleased when they discovered that the pedometer calculates steps while working out on an elliptical machine and during group exercise classes including Step, Zumba and indoor cycling. I was shocked when I discovered that I could accumulate almost 7,000 steps after teaching an indoor cycling class and almost 4,000 steps after playing an hour of tennis (doubles).

One of the most powerful benefits of a pedometer is that it helps you find ways to move your body to accumulate steps. The digits that show up on the display become a constant and reliable source of feedback that can help you attain your step goal for the day. The good news is that these devices are inexpensive and they can help individuals who are just starting out on a fitness program or even the seasoned fitness veterans.

Research continues to show that people who are active and move their bodies as they were designed to do will reduce their risk for acquiring life-limiting and life-threatening diseases. Scientific research also indicates that health benefits can be achieved by accumulating as little as 4,000 steps per day.

A key fitness mantra is that something is better than nothing when it comes to movement!  Utilizing a “nickel and dime” approach to fitness will lead to greater fitness wealth in the long run. Being consistent and having a strategy that can meet your fitness goal is critical to achieving wellness success.

Remember that you have to move it to lose it (weight) and if you are moving, you are improving! Investing in a pedometer may be one way to help you get moving and achieving a more active lifestyle.


Benefits of physical activity

Reduces the risk for hypertension and heart attacks.

Increases work capacity/more energy for daily tasks.

Reduced risk for developing back problems.

Improves daily living and mobility.

Improves quality of life and self-esteem.

Slows down the aging clock.

Improves posture and overall physique.

Excellent source of stress relief.

Reduces risk for several types of cancer.

Improves immune system.