All Pedometers Not The Same, UT Study Shows

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Not all digital pedometers measure walking distance with the same

accuracy, but most come pretty close, a University of Tennessee study shows.

Dr. David Bassett, UT-Knoxville associate professor of exercise science, examined five electronic

pedometer brands — Freestyle Pacer, Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, Yamax and Accusplit.

The study evaluated pedometers on 20 walkers several times over a course of about 4.9 kilometers,

or three miles. It measured distance recorded and effects of walking at different speeds and walking

on different surfaces.

“Most of the pedometers provide measurements accurate to within 10 percent,” Bassett said.

“They are much more accurate than most people could estimate without a pedometer, and can give

people a much better idea of how much exercise they’re doing.”

The study found the Yamax brand worked best, with almost 100 percent accuracy, Bassett said.

The Accusplit was second most accurate overall, followed by the Pacer.

The Pacer, however, had the most variance between distances measured by two pedometers of the

same brand. One of two Pacers tested was more accurate and slightly overstated the distance;

another understated the distance by more than half a kilometer, or about 13 percent.

The L.L. Bean was least accurate, understating the distance by more than half a kilometer.

Walking surface had little effect, but walking speed affected pedometer accuracy. At a slow walking

speed of two miles an hour, some pedometers failed to record all of the walker’s steps, Bassett

said.

Most of the pedometers worked well at more brisk walking speeds of 3-4 miles an hour, and are

much more accurate than the old-style, gear-driven types of pedometers, Bassett said.

Bassett’s study results appear in the current issue of Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise.

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Contact: Dr. David Bassett (423-974-8766)