RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—Pedometers, inexpensive devices that track how many steps you take in a day, can help motivate people to exercise. But combine that simple gadget with some social networking—Facebook, maybe, or even just an old-school coffee klatch—and you'll get an even bigger boost. A new study shows that the combo of wearing a pedometer, chronicling your daily steps in a diary, and sharing the results with friends in a walking group can help motivate you to walk more. The research appears in this month's Journal of Physical Activity and Health.
THE DETAILS: The study tracked 75 women enrolled in the "Fit for Life Steps" six-month community walking program. The women wore pedometers and recorded their progress in walking diaries, and then shared the results with fellow walkers. Researchers found that women who wrote about their progress in walking diaries and shared the results tended to walk even more than the other pedometer users.
WHAT IT MEANS: Spending about $30 (or even less) on a pedometer is one of the best investments you can make for your health, because as this and other studies show, it will get you moving. Pedometers serve as mini inspiration managers, reminding us when we're too stagnant. They also help you gauge your exercise level and track your progress. And study after study proves they really work. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension recommends the following brands:
• Bodytronics Onyx Step Pedometer, $6.00, basic, lightweight step counter
• Accusplit Pedometer, $28.00, measures steps (with 98 percent accuracy), distance, and calories
• Omron Pocket Pedometer, $40.00, measure steps, calories, and distance; includes software that collects and saves exercise history