How to Calibrate a Pedometer

How to Calibrate a Pedometer
Before the advent of global positioning systems, or GPS, pedometers were a popular way of measuring distance traveled by foot. They're still a cheap, efficient way to keep track of how far you walk in a day. The recommended daily number of steps to take in a day is 10,000--this works out to about 5 miles worth of walking, depending on the person and the length of stride. For accurate measurements, a pedometer has to be calibrated for the user's stride length.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Pedometer
  • Tape measure (100 feet)
  • Notepad or journal
Step 1
Find a flat, straight area where you can walk at least 60 or 70 feet in a direction. Ideal locations are on cement, such as a sidewalk or parking lot.
Step 2
Lay out the tape measure along the course you will walk, or find a way to anchor it at the starting point and pull out the tape measure as you go. You will be measuring four different strides to best calibrate your pedometer.
Step 3
Take 10 normal steps from the start of the tape measure, and mark the end point--the location of the heel of your forward-most foot. Measure the distance traveled in feet, then divide that number by 12 to get the measurement in inches, then divide that number by 10 to get the average length of each stride. Repeat this step for a brisk walk, a jog and a run.
Step 4
Enter your stride length into your pedometer before walking or running. Use the stride length that corresponds to the type of activity you will be doing. On some pedometers you can save various stride lengths in the pedometer's memory, so you have to record your stride length only once. Otherwise, the pedometer will prompt you to enter in your stride length before starting your activity.

Article Written By Jonathan Croswell

Jonathan Croswell has spent more than five years writing and editing for a number of newspapers and online publications, including the "Omaha World-Herald" and "New York Newsday." Croswell received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Nebraska and is currently pursuing a Master's of Health and Exercise Science at Portland State University.

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