Every Step Counts

8 - 12,000 steps. That's how far adults as a minimum should move every day. But it is far from everyone who gets around that much. A step counter might motivate many people who are too inactive.

According to The World Health Organisation a third of the adult, European population exercises too little. At the same time daily exercise is regarded as a more and more important factor for health in general. We are confronted with a problem which needs solving.

Of course the buying of step counters aren't a complete solution to the problem, but for many (especially men and children) the little gadget may be quite motivating, and thus the end result is more exercise.

A step counter is also called a pedometer. It is a rather smart device which you attach to the waistband of your trousers or skirt. It counts the number of steps through the course of the day by registering the small bumps which come from walking.

Step counters are found in many versions and price ranges depending on where you buy them and how advanced they need to be. The price ranges from 4 - 40£. The cheapest models only count the number of steps and only have a simple reset button. They are sufficient for most people's needs. On the more advanced, and more expensive, models you can enter your average stride length and have the step counter convert the number of steps to a distance. They can also keep track of calorie use, some have a clock and stop watch, radio and a personal alarm, just to name a few extra functions.

However, some step counters are not sensitive enough to register all the steps we take. On some models it is also too easy, inadvertently, to reset the counter - on this account it is not always the most expensive model which is the best.

A more serious application of the step counter is to register how much children move around on a daily basis.

Recent studies show that the unofficial recommendations regarding the number of steps a pedometer should log daily have been too low, especially for adults. Newer recommendations are more accurate.

The latest recommendations are:
  • Girls, 6 – 12 years old: 12,000 steps
  • Women, 18 – 40 years old: 12,000 steps
  • Women, 40 – 50 years old: 11,000 steps
  • Women, 50 – 60 years old: 10,000 steps
  • Women, 60 years old and older: 8,000 steps

  • Boys, 6 –12 years old: 15,000 steps
  • Men, 18 – 50 years old: 12,000 steps

Walking and burning calories
Metabolism is dependent on many different factors, such as weight, muscle mass, age, and whether we stroll of walk at a fast pace. Under any circumstance, the quicker one walks, the more calories are burned. Here are some average values:
  • Normal walking speedis about110 steps per minute (ca. 5 km/hour) which gives a caloric burn of about 280 kcal per hour.
  • At 130 steps per minute (ca. 6 km/hour) the caloric burn is about 330 kcal/hour.
  • At 140 steps per minute (ca. 6.5 km/hour) the caloric burn is about 350 kcal/hour.
  • At 150 steps per minute (ca. 7 km/hour) the caloric burn is about 400 kcal/hour.
To put this into perspective, a piece of pastry (about 50 g.) contains about 250 kcal.