I’ve been seeing pedometers discussed a bit lately. In some ways, they get a bad rap; we’ve seen them [mis-]used in “wellness” programs and that accuracy varies. Although they can be amusing, as noted by one NY Times commenter:
Fitbit has a clip on model that I attach to the waistband of tights or to the center of my bra. I’ve had this one for a year and it’s gone through the laundry and still works…though it did count the washing and drying as 37 flights of stairs.
– comment from Karen in Chicago
Ana Mardoll, meanwhile, uses one to be sure she doesn’t walk too much.
As it happens, I’ve had a Fitbit Zip for about 6 months now. What does it say?
Graph showing daily average steps for every 7 days
The above graph the daily average steps for each week. There’s some variations, but it varies between 2400 and 5500 per day.
Daily average steps per month
The daily average per month graph, however, shows a much smaller variation – from 2950 to 3400. That’s a fairly narrow range. On average, the Zip says I’m walking about the same as I did six months ago.
What has changed?
I have become more aware of how much I walk. I thought I was more active on the weekends because I walk around the house more frequently than the office. Wrong! The house is more compact; I have to make an effort if I want to walk as much on the weekends as I do by just going to work.
I am more consistent in my walking routine. I had noticed before I got the Zip that varying between “not walking much” and “going on a hike” would leave me with aching knees. Now I have a higher “minimum” and I have a LOT fewer problems.
For the curious, the Fitbit Zip is pretty much a pedometer. It doesn’t do flights of stairs or track my sleep, like other models do. It uploads data to a website for long-term tracking. The website can be used with or without one of the trackers, if you’re into manually entering things. (Personally I just use the Zip.)
One gripe I’ve had about the “dashboard” is that it assumes I want to track my weight, calories, etc. No, I don’t want to log food. I don’t want to track my weight. I don’t care how many calories you think I’ve used….
Bonus reminder my Fitbit doesn’t track stairs.
There’s also a beta for a new dashboard, which is better at letting me hide what I don’t care to see.
Example new dashboard.
Personally I prefer the new one.
Overall, if you’re the sort of person who learned to disconnect from and distrust your body, this kind of tracker may be a useful tool. But like many things, your mileage may vary.