We have all heard the universal recommendation of reaching 10000 steps per day for optimal health. So how do we know? I am willing to guess that the number of healthy people walking around not literally counting out each step, outnumbers the number of people who are.
The truth is, there are many simple ways to know how many footsteps we take every day without even thinking about it. In this article, I will give you my opinion on what is the best way to count your steps, as well as some other strong options so you know how you can personally raise your walking game.
If you would like more motivation, check out my article on why walking is good for your health.
Let Your Watch Count Your Steps
Today’s technology means there are a lot of things we would like to achieve that we can outsource to one of our little devices and counting is no different. I am going to go straight in with what is in my opinion, the best way to know your daily step count – your watch.
Most smartphone manufacturers also make smartwatches with the Apple iWatch series being immensely popular. Whoever makes your phone, their latest smartwatch may be your most intuitive option.
If you would like a cheaper all-rounder option, the Fitbit range seems to be very popular. Formerly known as Healthy Metrics Research, Fitbit inc is on the market to specialize in health metrics such as exercise, sleep, heart rate, and the number of steps taken daily.
If you are not quite ready to commit to the price of the Fitbit, you can opt for a cheaper Chinese made smartwatch.
Amazon has also just released the Halo which is a not technically a watch because it does not tell the time but let’s face it… that’s not what we use most of these smartwatches for. The Halo is an activity tracker designed to focus on health metrics. At the time of writing this, I do not know a great deal about the Halo but I can assume it is a great step counting option. However, is it the best, I doubt it but the price point means I might never find out. You can own the watch for about the same price as a Fitbit, but the app required to run it is a subscription service at about $4 or £3 per month with the first 6 months included in the price of the watch.
The Best Way to Count Your Steps – Author’s Recommendation
All of the above options will sync your daily step count data to your phone via an app, giving you real-time data to work with, and all have the added benefit of being able to read and reply to your texts, answer calls and even play music from your phone without even taking it out of your pocket. But which one is the Best?
You have to weigh up your own needs and pick your favourite, but for me, the best watch to count your steps is the Garmin Vivoactive 3. Garmin’s watches are not as “Smart” as most smartwatches and have limited functionality when synced to your smartphone. Garmins approach is to specialise in exercise most notably over longer distances so they can leverage GPS as their speciality. Garmin has a lot of good options but I chose the Vivoactive 3 because it has the superior battery life, great GPS tracking for those extra long hikes, and is brilliant for tracking your fitness goals.
Your Mobile Phone – It’s Good to Walk
More than 20 years ago BT, then the national telephone service provider in the UK, had the slogan “it’s good to talk” so I am using valuable content space to parody an outdated slogan. However, your mobile phone is one of the best ways to monitor your daily steps. Look at it this way, Smartwatches might make the process of counting your steps more streamlined but they need your Smartphone to really give you the data. However, you might not get heartrate data, your sleep and exercise data might be less accurate but your smartphone can get your footsteps data as long as it is with you at all times.
You can download a health app specific to your phone’s operating system or you can download free 3rd party apps such as Pacer or MapMyFitness by the sportswear brand – Under Armour. Each of these will count your steps without you asking it to.
However, my favourite application for counting my steps is Strava. The app is free, it’s easy to use, you can add your social media friends so you can all show off your progress and motivate each other, it is great for logging routes and distance. The only downside is that if I am only using Strava, I have to review the data analysis and calculate the number of steps myself. I could upgrade to premium subscription and get a much more detailed analysis. I use Strava in combination with my Garmin app so I have my simple step count data to hand. However, Pacer and my Apple Health app are both great for simple step counting.
Pedometers Were Made to Count Steps
When looking at some of the best ways to measure your daily step count, it would be ridiculous to leave out the very device that was invented to help us achieve our 10000 steps every day, or was it? Well, actually it’s the other way around, we were initially “tricked” into walking 10000 footsteps per day so a company could sell more pedometers. If you don’t believe me, you can check out this article from the BBC explaining a little more about it.
Despite its purpose, the pedometer sits quite low on the list of best step counting options, however, it is possibly the simplest way to count your footsteps without actually counting them. You can get them very cheap or even free, you can clip it to your belt and check your figures whenever you need to. It does not store the data but you can do that with a good old pen and paper… (or a really big abacus)
Estimate Your Steps by Distance
As far best options go, this is not one for actually counting your steps. However, I have included in this list because if you do not have a smartphone, smartwatch or pedometer, then you would probably rather not resort to counting your steps up in your head. If you pay someone to follow you around counting your steps for you I am guessing you would spend that money on one of the aforementioned better options and still have money left over.
I do have good news, a general rule of thumb applied is that 10000 steps add up to the equivalent of approximately 5 miles. Therefore, you can calculate your distance travelled while out walking and have a rough idea of how many steps you have taken.
As everyone has different strides, this is far from accurate but if your focus is raising your walking game it doesn’t need to be. You just need a number that you can try to improve on next time.
Which is The Best for You?
You now have a few options to consider with smartwatches being the most useful, phones being the most readily available for most people, a pedometer being the economy option and the distance comparison as your last resort. So as I said before, the best option for counting your steps every day is dependant on your own preference.
If you have found this article helpful, you have a favourite step counter out of the options listed or you have any other suggestions for counting steps, please let me know in the comments.