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Accuracy of five electronic pedometers for measuring distance walked

BASSETT, DAVID R. JR.; AINSWORTH, BARBARA E.; LEGGETT, SUE R.; MATHIEN, CLARA A.; MAIN, JAMES A.; HUNTER, DAVID C.; DUNCAN, GLEN E.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: August 1996 - Volume 28 - Issue 8 - pp 1071-1077
Special Communications: Technical Note

This is a three-part study that examined the accuracy of five brands of electronic pedometers (Freestyle Pacer, Eddie Bauer, L.L. Bean, Yamax, and Accusplit) under a variety of different conditions. In Part I, 20 subjects walked a 4.88-km sidewalk course while wearing two devices of the same brand(on the left and right side of the body) for each of five different trials. There were significant differences among pedometers (P < 0.05), with the Yamax, Pacer, and Accusplit approximating the actual distance more closely than the other models. The Yamax pedometers showed close agreement, but the left and right Pacer pedometers differed significantly (P = 0.0003) and the Accusplit displayed a similar trend (P = 0.0657). In Part II, the effects of walking surface on pedometer accuracy were examined. Ten of the original subjects completed an additional five trials around a 400-m rubberized outdoor track. The devices showed similar values for sidewalk and track surfaces. In Part III, the effects of walking speed on pedometer accuracy were examined. Ten different subjects walked on a treadmill at various speeds (54, 67, 80, 94, and 107 m·min-1). Pedometers that displayed both distance and number of steps were examined. The Yamax was more accurate than the Pacer and Eddie Bauer at slow-to-moderate speeds(P < 0.05), though no significant differences were seen at the fastest speed. While there are variations among brands in terms of accuracy, electronic pedometers may prove useful in recording walking activities in free-living populations.

Exercise Science Unit, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN; and Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics & Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC

Submitted for publication January 1996.

Accepted for publication April 1996.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the help of Pamela Andrews in data collection and analysis.

This research was partially supported by a grant from the Exhibit, Performance and Publication Expense Fund of the University of Tennessee-Knoxville Faculty Senate Research Council.

No financial support was received from any of the pedometer companies.

Address for correspondence: David R. Bassett, Jr., Exercise Science Unit, 1914 Andy Holt Ave., Knoxville, TN 37996.

©1996The American College of Sports Medicine