Motivation can make the difference between wanting to exercise and actually doing it. But does wearing a pedometer actually inspire you to move more? Yes—at least at first, finds a new study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.
Volunteers given pedometers took 1,500 steps more per day the first week of wearing them (9,898 steps compared to their average 8,330 steps). During the second week, however, study participants returned to their more sedentary ways. That’s not good. Experts say you need 10,000 steps a day for good health, and some studies find men need a couple thousand more to keep their weight in check.
Why the drop in enthusiasm? The novelty of instant feedback wears off quickly, says study author Stacy Clemes, Ph.D., of Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. Your fix: Regularly set and update your goals to your workout routine, Clemes says. A little healthy competition also helps. (For even more ways to get in shape, check out our list of the 100 Best Fitness Tips.)
Luckily, today’s newest fitness trackers have these features built in—and they don’t look like the clunky, beeping hunks of plastic your grandmother wears while mall-walking. In fact, they’re like pedometers on steroids. Here are four that keep us moving.
Wear this slim, black wristband to record and convert your activity to a mysterious measure called NikeFuel. It’s simple: Get moving and watch the wristband’s LED display change from red to yellow to green as you inch toward your daily goal. (Are you hoofing it fast enough to make a difference? Find out if you’re walking too slow.) Then, upload your data to the Nike+ website or a free iPhone app where you can connect to friends and compare totals. (Nikestore.com, $149)
Want to reach new heights? The Fitbit Ultra features an altimeter—which can track how many hills or stairs you’ve climbed—and a 3D motion sensor. Send your stats wirelessly to Fitbit.com and geek out on charts and graphs that detail your fitness from all angles. You can also set up leaderboards to compete with your buds and earn badges to proudly display on your profile page. (www.fitbit.com, $99.95)
Endomondo Sports Tracker
Your phone can do double duty if you don’t want to shell out dough for a separate device. Just fire up this app, choose your sport from a lengthy list (orienteering, anyone?), and it’ll track your time and distance using GPS. Make any workout a race by going against your personal best or a friend’s. When you’re done, your data transfers to a website that works like a Facebook for fitness junkies, with one bonus feature: Your friends can egg you on with messages that play through the app while you sweat. (www.endomondo.com, $3.99 for Pro version) (Want some more instant exercise motivation? Here’s The Photo That’ll Make Anyone Want to Work Out.)
Getting paid to work out? Sign us up. First, choose between two versions: a soft silicon wristband or a clip-on style device. Then, get paid. For each hour of activity you perform while wearing your wristband or device, you’ll get a reward code. Upload it to Switch2Health’s site to bank points and earn prizes like gift cards, movie tickets, or even a Nintendo Wii. (www.switch2health.com, $24.95)
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