by Ann Votaw, CHES, MA
While researching pedometers for a corporate walking program, I’ve determined three factors: (1) cheap translates into useless landfill plastic (often branded with your company logo), (2) batteries must be easy to change, meaning the chamber must open with a regular-sized screwdriver, not a watchmaker’s tool, and (3) reset buttons must do their job within this century and with minimal effort.
A $12 New Balance pedometer, purchased last year at Target, exhibits all three annoying qualities of flimsy construction, poor access to battery chamber, and a reset button I must stab with a pen using diamond-forming pressure. I imagine how well this bad boy would hold up in a work-site wellness challenge, participants constantly asking for instructions or replacements.
So far, my favorites include the Weight Watchers PointsPlus Pedometer and the Omron HJ-113, both which match nearly every footfall and reset at midnight. (Unfortunately, I needed battery-changing assistance for the Omron at my neighborhood Radioshack because the screw was so tiny.) The PointsPlus is not as accurate but is the most convenient in that the battery chamber opens with a coin, the reset button does its job, and the numbers appear upside down — allowing the user to see steps right side up.
In the days that follow, expect a table depicting my suggestions. On-line searches reveal the Omron brand as a customer favorite as well as Fit Solutions SW-200 Yamax Digiwalker Pedometer, which I purchased on Amazon for $19.50.
Easy battery change is crucial as most die within three months. To my surprise, many health fair pedometers offer no way to get inside, likening them to carnival goldfish — enjoy them while they last.
Most free on-line walking programs range from six- to eight- weeks. My goal is to find the most accurate, inexpensive, and user-friendly step counters. I want participants to work out with well-functioning equipment, anywhere from eight weeks to eight years after the challenge.