Pedometer FAQs

Q. Why should I only consider a Yamax Pedometer?
A. There are several commercially available brands of electronic pedometers, for example, the Yamax Digi Walker (Tokyo, Japan), Freestyle Pacer (Camarillo, CA) and Eddie Bauer Compustep II (Redmond, WA). Collectively, the results of three studies (Bassett, 1996; Gretebeck, 1992; Eston, 1998) concluded that the Japanese developed Yamax Digi Walker series (200-700) was the most accurate.

A new study in the prestigious journal "Medicine and Science in Sport and Exercise" comprehensively evaluated the validity and reliability of the top 10 commercial pedometers. The authors concluded that "Overall it appears that the [Yamax] Digiwalker is the most accurate in predicting steps, distance, and gross kilocalories for walking (Croutter, Schneider, Karabulut, & Bassett, 2003, p. 1459).

Comparison of five brands of electronic pedometers over a 4.88 km footpath course (Bassett, 1996).

Bassett DRJ, Ainsworth BE, Leggett SR, Mathien JA, Hunter DC, Duncan GE. Accuracy of five electronic pedometers for measuring distance walked. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise 1996;28:1071-1077.
Hatano Y. Use of the pedometer for promoting daily walking exercise. International Council for Health, Physical Education, and Recreation 1993;29:4-8.

Q. How many steps in YOUR day?
A. You can measure the number of steps in your day using a pedometer - a small electronic device that attaches to a waist band and counts the number of steps you take.

Some models also tell you how far you have walked and estimate how much energy you have used.

There are several pedometers on the market. However, in terms of accuracy, reliability, ease of use, and cost, the DIGI-WALKER pedometer is the best. Research shows that the Japanese YAMAX DIGI-WALKER is the most reliable and accurate (Bassett et al, 1996).

Q. How many steps should I be taking and why?
A. Recent evidence suggests that young, healthy adults should aim to take 10,000 steps every day. Children and adolescents should aim for more, approximately 12-14,000 steps a day. *Older adults should aim for a little less than 10,000 depending on their mobility.

However some people only manage to take about 3,000 steps each day - walking to the car, walking to get food/drinks, around the workplace or home - not even getting up to change the TV channel. All the 'action' has been replaced by easier options. As a result of this inactivity, New Zealanders are less fit and more overweight, and are suffering from many of the health problems which result from too much sitting.

*If you are older or have a health problem or a disability ask your doctor or contact us ( about modifying your target.

 Q. How do I wear my pedometer?

A. Easy - the pedometer should be placed mid-way between the hip and front. Ideally it should attach to the belt or trouser top.

Slide the clip of the pedometer onto your waistband or belt directly in line with your foot. You must ensure the pedometer is vertical and not angled sideways or forwards, as it will not accurately record your step count.

With the pedometer clip against your body you can now open the pedometer without removing it from your waistband as the screen will be facing you.

If you are wearing a dress without a waistband slide the clip of the pedometer onto the waistband of your underwear. If purchased, attach the security strap's bulldog clip onto your waistband or belt loop. This will ensure the safety of your pedometer.

How NOT to wear your pedometer.

  • Do not put your pedometer in your pocket
  • Do not attach your pedometer via the security strap only
  • Do not wear your pedometer on a slanted pocket.
  • Do not attach your pedometer near your belly button. Position it closer to your hip.
  • Do not attach your pedometer where your tummy will push it out of the vertical position. If your tummy protrudes, position the pedometer on the side of the hip where it will remain horizontal.

Remember, you must ensure the pedometer is vertical and not angled sideways or forwards, otherwise it will not accurately record your step count.

Q. My pedometer seems to over estimate my steps
A. Here's a question from a recent customer....
Hello there, I have received my pedometer thank you. However, a question! Can you please tell me why it might be registering many more steps than I am actually taking....flattering though it is. It seems to be registering about 45% more than I am walking. The stride is set at 60cm (I have short legs!)
A reply from Louise our expert in pedometer use... Glad you received your pedometer ok! Your Yamax pedometer is 100.6% accurate at measuring the number of steps taken when worn for at least 1000 steps - what I am getting at is you say that you are registering about 45% more than you are walking - I can only imagine that you are resetting your pedometer walking 10 or so steps (counting the steps you take in your head) and then opening and checking your actual number of steps taken as read by the pedometer. What you need to realise is that a Yamax pedometer has a very precise mechanism (a pendulum system) that detects any form of motion - when you reset your pedometer then fiddle with it a bit as you attach it to your waistband this records some extra steps (around 5-8) the same when you take it off, also during the course of the day it might register a few (and I mean a few!) steps when it should not - say when you go over a bump in the car - but the point is even if the pedometer picks up a total of 50 extra steps over the course of the day in the context of aiming for 10,000 or even 3 or 4000 for that matter - 50 extra steps is nothing. Below I have quoted from a research article published in the Journal of Medicine, Science, Sports & Exercise that concluded that the Yamax is the most accurate pedometer available. "One study demonstrated that the Yamax brand of pedometer recorded 100.7% (left) and 100.6% (right) of all steps taken when using adult participants (Bassett et al., 1996)".
The reason that the Yamax is 100.6% and 100.7% accurate is because of those extra 50 or so steps it records during the course of wearing it for a whole day - assuming that you do not take it on and off every 5 minutes!!
I have attached to this email a summary two-page document outlining how reliable the Yamax pedometer is. Do be aware that while the steps recorded over the day is a very accurate reflection of the actual number of steps you did, the distance travelled and the kilocalories used (assuming you have an SW700 model) is only an estimation because of course even though you have entered in your stride length - every step you take during the day will not be that exact length - regarding the kilocalories used - some activities are more intense than others.

Q. Something is moving inside my pedometer. Is that normal?
A. Yes. That's the suspended lever arm which moves up and down as you move. You'll notice that the lever arm counts "steps" when you shake or move the pedometer. That, too, is normal - but it's not a very healthy way to get your steps in!

Q. I don't think my pedometer is working properly. What should I do?
A. In most cases, problems with pedometers accurately recording steps can be remedied by adjusting how the pedometer is positioned on your body.

For pedometer models, it's essential that the pedometer remain upright because of how the internal mechanism works. If your tummy is pushing the pedometer out of its upright position, you may be getting inaccurate results. Wearing the pedometer on your waistband directly under your armpit may solve this problem.

Q. Will my pedometer work properly if it's in my pocket?
A. No. If the pedometer has room to move around in your pocket. It's not likely to remain vertical, which means it will be unable to count your steps accurately.

For accurate readings your pedometer must be in an upright, vertical position at all times.

Q. Why does my treadmillreport a different distance than my pedometer?
A. Some people find that if they wear their pedometer while walking on a treadmill, their pedometer might report a different mileage reading than the treadmill.

For some people this discrepancy can be troublesome because they don't know whether their treadmill is off or the pedometer is off.

There are three possibilities for such discrepancies: First, unless you have your treadmill calibrated regularly, it is most likely inaccurate. The only treadmills that are calibrated regularly are probably those in human performance labs or cardiac centres. A second possibility is that you've figured your stride length inaccurately. A third possibility has to do with the change in the length of your stride as you change the speed or incline on your treadmill. You must realize that your stride length does not remain constant.

Q. Can I wear my pedometer around my neck on a lanyard? 
A. No - this will not allow the pedometer to accurately record your step counts.

Q. Will a pedometer work on stairs? I want to increase my activity by using the stairs in our apartment building. If it works on stairs, how is stride on stairs calculated?
A. Your pedometer will count your steps as you go up and down stairs, but it will calculate the distance based on the walking stride length that you entered into your pedometer. I wouldn't advise trying to figure out a "stair stride length" for the distance calculation. Ultimately, everyone's goal is to increase physical activity energy expenditure to about 300-400 kilocalories per day to achieve the most health benefits. The simplest way to do that is taking 10,000 Steps a day. This includes steps taken going uphill and downhill, steps taken going up stairs and down stairs and steps taken walking on level ground. I think your decision to use the stairs in your apartment building is a great one! Your pedometer will count each step (stair)

Q. Will my pedometer work when riding a bike or must it be a walking/running activity?
A. A pedometer may record some cycling activity (pedal revolutions perhaps), but a pedal revolution will not expend the energy that a walking or running step will expend. Ultimately we are trying to measure/estimate energy expenditure. There are cyclo-computers for bikes that are very inexpensive. You might consider using one of them.

Q. My pedometer is jammed on a number, reads blank, or reads '88888'
A. This can usually be solved by removing the back cover with a coin, screwdriver or similar and removing the battery and reseating it. The reseated battery will reset the nit and it should be fine. If you have had your unit for a while (> 1 year) you may need to replace your battery.
Q. My pedometer got wet or went through a washing machine
While it is not recommended, pedometers have been known to survive a trip through the washing machine or a dip in the toilet. (However, the heat from a dryer is usually detrimental.) If your pedometer gets wet, here's what you need to do: Remove the battery immediately. Let the pedometer unit dry out for at least 24 hours and then put a new battery in (for pedometer models, you need an LR-44 battery).
Q. Keep your fingers crossed! Replacing the battery? 
A. Your pedometer lets you know when its battery is low by dimming its display.
Here's how to change the battery:
  • Obtain a LR-44 battery (readily available at discount, office supply or watch/camera stores).
  • Open the back of the step counter. To do this place a coin in the slot on the bottom of the pedometer. Turn the coin and snap the cover open. Gently lift the cover. Replace the "dead" battery with the new one, making sure the "+" sign faces you. Replace the cover, making sure it is properly aligned before you snap it shut. Make sure the cover is secure
  • Perform a self-test. To do this hold down all the buttons simultaneously for five seconds. When the display goes blank, remove your fingers from the buttons. Your display should show "88888" and then "0". If not, remove the battery and then put it back in. Your display should read "0".