How to Use a Pedometer to Start a Walking Program

Walk to improve your health

Believe it or not, spring is on its way.  The warmer temperatures already this week may inspire you to get outside and get some exercise. If walking is your sport of choice, use a pedometer to improve your level of fitness and measure your progress .

How to Buy a Pedometer

Pedometers come in many different price ranges, but an inexpensive model is really all you need to measure your steps per day.  You can find one at your local sporting goods store for less than $20. Most pedometers attach to your belt or waistband.  As you move through your daily activities, it measures the number of steps you take.

Figure Out Your Steps Per Day

The first time you wear your pedometer, don’t be worried about adding extra steps or trying to get the number too high.  Just measure a typical day’s activity to establish your starting point.

Activity Categories

  • Less than 5000 steps = sedentary
  • 5000-7499  = low active
  • 7500-9999 = somewhat active
  • More than 10,000 = active
  • More than 12,500 = highly active

Set a goal to improve your health by moving up at least one category.  For example, if you took 6000 steps on the first day you wore your pedometer, that means you started in the “low active” category.  Set a goal to walk 7,500 steps or more in order to move into the “somewhat active” category.   Once you reach that goal, see if you can set a new goal and continue to make progress.

Achieve a Moderate Walking Pace

Once you find yourself in the “active” category, start to measure the pace of your walks.  To improve your health, experts generally recommend 30 minutes per day of moderate intensity physical activity.  So how do you know if you are walking at a moderate intensity?

Researchers have found that moderate intensity walking can be achieved at a pace of 100 steps per minute, or 3000 steps in 30 minutes.  But, you don’t need to complete all 30 minutes in one session.  Three sessions of 1000 steps in 10 minutes can also be used to meet the recommended goal .


Simon J. Marshall, et al. “Translating Physical Activity Recommendations into a Pedometer-Based Step Goal.” American Journal of Preventative Medicine, May 2009.

Tudor-Locke C, Bassett DR Jr. “How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health.” Sports Medicine , 2004;34(1):1-8..

(Photo credit: phaewilk/Morguefile)


Healthy Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

ImageYou have less than a week left to shop for mom.  Do you know what to get her?  If the mother in your life is getting in shape for summer, trying to lose weight, or just interested in improving her health, use one of these healthy Mother’s Day gift ideas to show her that you support that investment in her health.

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

  • Pedometer.  This handy device will help mom count her steps while she walks.  Knowing that number will help her to start or improve her walking program.  Pedometers are available for as little as $5-10, but you can also spend more on sophisticated models.
  • Bike tune-up. If your mom likes to bike, a spring tune-up will keep her cycle in safe working condition.  If you have a few extra dollars, buy her a new helmet or other accessory.
  • Farmer’s Market visit /Healthy brunch.  Give mom a break in the kitchen and cook a healthy brunch.  Start the day with a visit to the Minneapolis Farmers Market and splurge on a bouquet of flowers and fresh vegetables.  Then let mom relax while you cook the meal.
  • Home exercise equipment.  If the lady in your life is trying to improve her health with exercise, an inexpensive set of hand weights is all she needs to set up an effective home gym.
  • Support coupons.   Sometimes, what mom needs most is time to take care of herself.  Offer coupons for household tasks, such as laundry, dishes, housecleaning, or babysitting to lighten her burden at home.