This story got some press last week: People who walk with a pedometer go farther and get healthier, according to a Stanford researcher:

Bravata and colleagues explain that although there has been a surge in popularity for pedometers as a tool to motivate and monitor physical activity, there is a lack of detailed evidence of their effectiveness.

They looked at 26 studies with a total of 2767 participants (eight randomized controlled trials and 18 observation studies); 85% of participants were women, and the mean age was 49 years. The mean duration of pedometer use in the studies was 18 weeks.

They found that, on average, pedometer users significantly increased their physical activity by 2183 steps a day over baseline (p<0.0001), or by 26.9%.

I bought a pedometer once but ended up exchanging it for something more useful because I thought its main purpose was measuring distance –  I knew from hiking that I never spent more than five minutes at the same pace, so telling a pedometer your pace is 2.5 feet or whatever results in  little more than a wild guess, distancewise.

Didn’t occur to me that the more fundamental business of counting steps could prove beneficial.  A wristwatch with a stopwatch function does pretty much the same thing, seems to me, but deprives you of the opportunity to buy an activity-specific toy.

More on buying a pedometer here.