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Cheap Pedometers Tend to Inaccurately Record Steps

They can overestimate the number of steps by as much as 50 percent

THURSDAY, June 22 (HealthDay News) -- Pedometers have become widely available, but many cheaper models are not useful for health purposes because they do not accurately monitor the steps taken, according to a study published online June 21 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Katrien De Cocker, and colleagues from Ghent University in Belgium, conducted a study of 973 inexpensive pedometers, with 35 healthy volunteers testing them five at a time for six days. They also wore a Yamax Digiwalker, one of the most reliable pedometers, and noted the difference in steps recorded on each device on a daily basis.

Only 252 (25.9 percent) of the pedometers met the study criterion, which was a deviation of no more than 10 percent from the number of steps recorded by the Yamax Digiwalker. The remainder demonstrated deviations of more than 10 percent, and more than one third of these devices (36.6 percent) deviated by more than 50 percent. Almost two thirds of the devices (64.8 percent) overestimated the number of steps taken.

"The wide accessibility of pedometers needs encouragement, but, because of validity problems, the use of an untested inexpensive pedometer is not recommended. The introduction of a quality label given to all valid, accurate, and reliable pedometer types and brands would be useful for researchers and individual users," the authors conclude.

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