The 10 Best Pedometers
This wiki has been updated 30 times since it was first published in May of 2015. The longest journey starts with a single step, and now you can track every one of those steps on your journey toward fitness with one of these pedometers. We've walked the walk, and now we are talking the talk by ranking them based on accuracy, simplicity of use, and battery life. Some of them are pretty stylish, as well, and can monitor more than just your daily activity. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 27, 2021:
While it may not look like this list underwent a lot of evolution during this round of updates, we did, in fact, swap out nearly half our previous picks for new and improved models from their respective companies. New innovations from Fitbit, a known leader in the pedometer space, were responsible for the bulk of these changes, as the Fitbit Charge 4 replaced the Charge 3; the Fitbit Versa 3 replaced the Versa 2; and the Fitbit Inspire 2 replaced the Inspire. We also jumped two generations forward with the Xiaomi Mi Band 6, which replaced the Mi Band 4, and even our special honor Apple Watch Series 5 needed to be replaced by the company’s Series 6 line.
If you’re looking for something a little more substantial than the models on this list, then you might want to check out our list of GPS watches. And, if there’s a youngster in your life who’s an aspiring step counter, we also maintain a list of activity trackers for kids.
February 11, 2020:
Because the company no longer offers support, we have opted to remove the Jawbone Up; we've also removed the discontinued Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus, replacing it with the newer Fitbit Charge 3. The Charge 3 offers many of the same features of the former, comes in several handsome colors, and isn't as expensive as some of the competition. We've added the Fitbit Inspire HR, as well, which can monitor your heart rate, swimming, steps, and more. Those who need an option with lots of features, but who don't have the budget for a Fitbit, might consider the Xiaomi Mi Band 4. Not everyone finds the app easy to use, but if you're long on patience but short on cash, it's one to consider.
We kept several simple options, too, including the 3DActive 3DFitBud. It doesn't have tons of bells and whistles, but that just makes it simpler to use than many robust choices that are modeled after smart watches. On the other hand, it tends to be less accurate than smarter versions. Finally, we've added the Bellabeat Leaf Urban over the Leaf Nature. One of the most attractive options, it provides many types of metrics and can be worn several ways, but it is on the bigger, more noticeable end of the size spectrum.
Spire Health Tag The Spire Health Tags are different than most pedometers, in that they're designed to attach to your clothing — and stay there. Stick one on each of the pieces you wear the most, such as bras or underwear, then forget about them. They can go through the washer and dryer, and they'll monitor your sleep along with your steps. spirehealth.com
Apple Watch Series 6 For anyone who just wants a simple step counter, the Apple Watch Series 6 will be a bit much, not only because it's a fully loaded smartwatch, but also because it has the beefy price tag to match. That being said, if you want to do everything from monitoring activity to taking calls, it's a great companion that'll help you keep up with your busy lifestyle. apple.com
Walk The Line
When you take a step, your body sways ever so slightly to one side, causing the pendulum to swing toward a second lead coming off of the main circuit board.
It's a scary thought to consider, but walking may be going out of style. It started with those moving walkways in airports, and then motorized scooters for the elderly and infirm became luxury wagons for the lazy and entitled. The Segway didn't last, thankfully, but its little cousin, the hover board, has become the go-to status symbol of young male, vaping urbanites. We're becoming the human version of those dogs whose back legs are missing so they cart themselves around in a little bucket with wheels.
All that is a shame because walking is so good for you. Just 30 minutes of walking at a casual pace will burn a solid 100 calories and cut your risk of type 2 diabetes by 60%. What's more, walking (outdoors, anyway) exposes you to more vitamin D, and it gets you more in touch with your community. If you walked a similar path around your neighborhood a few times a week, you'd undoubtedly run across some of the same faces along the way.
The National Health Service in the UK sponsors a 10,000 step challenge, imploring their nation's citizens to get out and walk at least 10,000 steps each day. Once you get your hands on one of these pedometers, not only will you be able to keep track of your daily steps, you'll also be surprised at how quickly you'll reach 10,000, and how easy it is to keep up the habit.
A pedometer works by way of a small mechanical pendulum that's wired to hold a little charge. When you take a step, your body sways ever so slightly to one side, causing the pendulum to swing toward a second lead coming off of the main circuit board. When the charged pendulum hits this lead, it completes a circuit that the board then reads and counts as one step.
It's a fascinating and efficient way to keep track of how many steps you've taken, and to track your walking habits. Many of the devices on our list will keep a short history of your walks, and some will even connect to your devices, allowing you to see loads of data, like calories burned, distances covered, and more.
The Devil Is In The Data
Whenever I exercise at the gym, and I get on a machine with a million different interfaces designed to give me real time feed back about my caloric burn, my heart rate, the distance I've traveled, the time I've spent running, what I should have for dinner that night, the lotto numbers I should play, etc., I get a little anxious.
I come from a school in which too much information can be a bad thing.
I come from a school in which too much information can be a bad thing. For people like me, there are pedometers on our list that keep it simple. These give you exactly what you want to know: how many steps. Of course, a lot of these simpler models also have hidden features like a memory bank for walks gone by or a quick converter to calories or distance, but they require an extra step to get to them, and I'm very happy not to take it.
There are people at the other end of the spectrum, however, who use their data as a motivating factor, as a means to keep themselves on track toward very specific goals in their health and wellness. I have a lot of respect for these people specifically because I can't seem to be one.
For this crowd, there are pedometers on our list that provide you with an incredible array of feedback at the touch of a button, that have deep, detailed memory banks, and that can even connect to your phone or your computer via Bluetooth or USB, so you can create your spreadsheets, and your goal charts, and all that other type-A personality stuff that's Greek to me.
Functionally, each of the pedometers on our list is a consistent and reliable counter, otherwise they wouldn't have made the list at all. Take into account your own taste for detailed data, as well as a sense of style (the pedometer is an accessory, after all), and you ought to be able to narrow our list down to one or two options you'll love.
A Walk Through Time
While visions of a pedometer date back to the musings of Leonardo Da Vinci, no such device was actually created until much later. A Swiss horologist (horology is essentially the study of time, and in this case it refers to the mechanisms of time, specifically the mechanisms of watches) named Abraham-Louis Perrelet created the first pedometer to accurately clock the number of human steps taken over a distance.
The difference between the pendulums in the new pedometers and those in the old is that the old versions didn't have any type of circuit to complete.
If you recall the description of the electronic pedometers on this list, they're based around a mechanical pendulum. Perrelet's design, and all of the subsequent pedometer designs leading up the Japanese made digital versions in the second half of the 20th century, were also based around the pendulum.
The difference between the pendulums in the new pedometers and those in the old is that the old versions didn't have any type of circuit to complete. Instead, they advanced a mechanism based on Perrelet's design for a self-winding pocket watch. Each time you took a step, the pendulum swung and wound a gear enough to progress a second-hand one position forward.
These early pedometers all looked remarkably like pocket watches, so close were they in design to the time-keeping devices. In the 1980s, promotion in Japan of a manpo-kei, or 10,000 steps meter, gained national popularity, and a wave of digital pedometers came flowing out of Japan and onto the world market.