While you might not move at quite the same pace as the Olympic athletes who will compete in the upcoming men's and women's race walks, perhaps the London Olympics can inspire you to step up your game.
One way to boost your exercise time is with a pedometer. A recent study found that adults who wore a pedometer during walking workouts exercised an extra half hour a week compared to people who didn't wear a pedometer. The study of more than 300 older adults living in New Zealand found that people who wore a pedometer as part of an exercise "prescription" from their doctor ended up walking an extra 50 minutes a week over the next year, compared with an extra 28 minutes in a control group of people who got an exercise prescription but no pedometer. The prescription called for 30 minutes of exercise on most, if not all, days of the week.
Our latest tests of pedometers found a few great picks with excellent accuracy for around $30. We had staffers lace up their sneakers for our tests as they walked on treadmills at various speeds, climbed stairs, and walked outside. Our pedometer Ratings also include GPS watches, which measure distance outdoors via satellite information. Staffers ran outside for the GPS watch tests.
Get out of a walking rut with these easy ways to "tech up" your walking workout:
- Try a smart-phone app. We also tested two smart phone apps, which measure steps and distance through your phone's movement, and cost just a few dollars. Our pedometer Ratings found that both are accurate and great options for walkers.
- Load up your playlist. Check out walk.jog.fm to search for songs based on criteria like beats per minute (look for 137 to 139 BPM for brisk walking) and buy via Amazon or iTunes.
- Consider an on-body monitoring device. Tech-savvy exercisers might like these devices made by companies like BodyMedia, which measure variables like calories burned, steps taken, workout intensity, and even sleep quality via sensors on an armband that you wear most hours of the day. You can upload the data from the device to your computer with a USB cable. (Consumer Reports has not tested these devices.)
- Surf online for walking buddies. The American Heart Association offers a directory of walking clubs at mywalkingclub.org. Like to shop at Walgreens? The drugstore's "Walk with Walgreens" program allows you to track your progress and receive store coupons when you sign up.
Healthy Steps Trial: Pedometer-based Advice and Physical Activity for Low-Active Older Adults [Annals of Family Medicine]