When I was addicted to my Fitbit I always wore it in the middle of my bra. It meant no-one else could see it (although it did make checking it interesting). However, it seems I might not have been doing myself any favours there.
If research from Stanford University is reliable (and considering their reputation, it probably is) you’ll get the most accurate step and calorie count from clip-on step counting gizmos like bra pedometers (like these) and the old type of Fitbits if you clip them close to your hip (with one exception, see below).
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6 More Tips for Accurate Pedometer Readings
Need some other tips on boosting accuracy when using a clip on pedometer? Try these…..
- Do the 20 step test – take 20 steps at a moderate pace. If your device measures between 18-22 it’s classed as accurate. Give it a little pat on the back and continue. If it doesn’t it may be time to retire it to the great pile of exercise equipment in the sky.
- Keep your speed up: Pedometers are more accurate at speeds over 2.5mph (4kph). Even the newest fitness trackers give a more accurate reading when walking relatively quickly – they didn’t track steps taken when people were using a walker well at all.
- Keep your waistband (or bra band) tight and the pedometer upright – slanty pedometers give equally wonky readings.
- If you carry most of your weight around the tummy and the pedometer can’t lie flat, you could be better off with a bra-pedometer. To find out, try the 20 step test with the pedometer clipped on your waistband, then try it again clipped onto the middle of your bra (ladies) or on your belt parallel with your armpit or close to your lower back (this does mean you’ll have to take it off to read it – but think of it as a nice surprise!). Whichever reading is most accurate then stick with that position.
- Don’t put the pedometer in your pocket. It might work for the health app on your iPhone, but in a study looking at what happened when people did this they found that this was when the pedometer was least accurate.
- If you walk somewhere very hilly, or walk on soft sand or similar the device may undercount. This is because pedometers count movements that apply a certain force vertically – steep inclines or soft surfaces can mess with this force and cause them to miss some steps, just factor in variability of about 10 per cent on these surfaces.
Of course, none of this advice applies to things like the newer types of fitness tracker that you wear on your wrist – they’ve been calculated to work using arm movement (although – I’m pretty sure that means I’d earn exercise points while eating – and in fact there is a trial that did show that the Fitbit Flex counted eating as steps).
Oh, and if you’re wondering why my Fitbit and I aren’t as joined at the hip (or bra) as we used to be, it’s because it stopped talking to my computer and I’ve never got round to re-introducing the two of them. In fact, it’s sitting here now underneath my computer monitor nagging at me like a puppy that hasn’t been walked yet today. Maybe I’d better add ‘synch Fitbit’ to my to-do list this week.