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How Do Pedometers Work?

By Kim Nunley

Pedometers are exercise training tools that count the number of steps you take. Getting in 10,000 steps every day can improve your heart health and lower body fat, and you can use a pedometer to monitor your progress. The unit attaches to the waistband of your pants or shorts and features a digital display, which will show the total steps you take during a particular time. Depending on the pedometer's design, it may allow you to enter your calculated stride length and body weight, which then gives it the capability to also provide estimations of the distance you walked, your pace and the total calories burned.

How They Count Your Steps

Inside most pedometers is a metal lever arm that’s referred to as the hammer. The impact from your foot striking the ground with each step causes the hammer to tip downward and tap a sensor. The pedometer is placed against the side of one hip and will only respond when the leg of that side of the hip hits the ground. Therefore, each time the sensor is hit, the pedometer registers that two steps have been completed. A battery is also included in the unit, which powers the counter and digital display. Some pedometers on the market feature accelerometers, which count steps by reading vibrations. Rather than a lever arm hitting a sensor, each time a vibration is recorded, the accelerometer registers a step.

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