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Which pedometer is the best fit for you?

December 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
If one of your New Year's resolutions is to get in better shape, experts say walking is a great way to do that. Pedometers can be an inexpensive incentive to help you track your steps and motivate you to reach your goals.

A pedometer has helped John Hvisch count nearly every step he's taken while exercising for the last 25 years.

"It keeps me going, it keeps me really going, I tell you," said Hyisch. "I'm 86, and I just love it. I just love to walk."

He's on the right track. A Stanford University study reported that people who use a pedometer walk about a mile more every day than those who don't use one. If you're ready to take the first step, which pedometer should you get?

Consumer Reports' tested 10 conventional pedometers, three cellphone apps, and three GPS watches. After logging close to 100 outdoor miles, counting more than 120,000 steps on a treadmill, and climbing nearly 3,000 stairs, testers found several to recommend. The most elaborate are GPS watches.

"GPS watches use satellites to measure distance, so they're highly accurate outdoors. But for $200 to $300, they might be more than a typical walker really needs," said Consumer Reports' Jamie Hirsh.

For a mere fraction of the cost, consider a conventional pedometer, which clips right onto your waistband.

The MIO Trace Pedometer is top rated. It costs $30, is easy to use, and rated excellent for accuracy. It also has added features like a calorie counter, a stopwatch, and a regular watch.

Or spend just $5 on the basic Sportline Step and Distance Pedometer from Wal-Mart, which rated very good for accuracy.

Either can put you on the road to better health.

If you're wondering about a cellphone app, Consumer Reports says two rated very good for accuracy, and they're easy to use. For Android phones, try the AccuPedo Pedometer Widget. If you have an iPhone, testers liked the Pedometer Pro GPS Plus. Both apps go for about $4.