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Many Pedometers Can't Keep the Pace

Three out of four were far from accurate, study found

WEDNESDAY, June 21, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Cheaper pedometers that purport to measure each step you take may not always be accurate, a new Belgian study finds.

Researchers at the University of Ghent tested more than 1,000 pedometers. They had 35 adult volunteers wear 30 pedometers -- five per day -- that measured their steps for six days. The volunteers also maintained an automated step-count log that precisely logged their steps. Counts from both the pedometers and the automatic step log were compared for accuracy.

In one in every three pedometers tested, the count was off by more than 50 percent as compared to the automated step log -- and in about two-thirds of these pedometers, steps recorded were higher than those taken and noted by the log. Although a 10 percent variation was defined as acceptable for this study, three out of four pedometers exceeded that variance, the researchers said.

Discrepancies of this magnitude in pedometers can add up to a big difference between what people think they've walked and what they actually have, the group noted.

The study authors, who reported their findings in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, wrote in a prepared statement that "inexpensive (pedometers) provide incorrect information on step counts, which makes them inappropriate for physical activity promotion targets."

More information

The Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center has more about walking.

SOURCES: British Journal of Sports Medicine, news release, June 21, 2006
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