Walking: Make it count with activity trackers

Counting your steps with an activity tracker can motivate you to keep walking. Here's what to look for in an activity tracker and how to set your fitness goals.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Walking is a great way to get and stay fit. But are you doing enough to see results? Using activity-tracking devices and apps, or even an old-school pedometer, can help you set and reach your fitness goals. See how these tools can get you off on the right foot.

What are activity trackers?

Activity trackers, also known as activity monitors or fitness trackers, are the modern equivalent of pedometers. But they do more than count steps. They can determine how far you've traveled and what type of movement you were doing, such as walking or jogging. And many measure sleep quality and length, compute calorie intake and the number of calories burned, monitor your heart rate, and serve as alarm clocks or watches.

Some display your progress in real time; all can show it later on a smartphone, tablet or computer. They can even provide social support through apps or websites. And activity trackers can assist with your goal setting by giving cues and rewards to encourage healthy behaviors.

Many activity trackers are made to be worn on your wrist, like a watch or bracelet, although some can be clipped to your clothing. Most can be worn round-the-clock. They are not totally accurate, but overall they provide more activity information than a pedometer does.

Pedometers keep it simple

Prefer to keep things simple? Then a pedometer might be a good choice for you. A pedometer counts steps for any activity that involves steplike movement, such as walking, jogging and running.

To use a pedometer, you usually just clip it onto the waistband of your pants, tuck it inside your pocket or even slip it into a purse held close to your body, and then get moving.

Jan. 19, 2017 See more In-depth