I recently decided to give pedometers a try. I want to monitor my walking activity level, so a pedometer is the tool of choice.
For now, my post back surgery activity options are: walking. I want to see progress to help with the mental parts of the rehab, and I am also a geek – I need to measure. Pedometers are devices to measure walking and I looked at a few options. For the price, simplicity and features, Accupedo has been working nicely.
What are my options?
There are a lot of options out there for pedometers. But wait, what is a pedometer? It is a device that measures the number of steps you take. Simple. The fancy ones add you stride length to get distance and stride frequency to get speed. Add you body weight, and they can guess calories. The list of fancy features grows quickly. My daughter brought one home from school that just counts each step and has a reset; the simplest option.
So, what did I consider? The main options seem to be:
- A classic, dedicated belt style pedometer (Amazon examples)
- One of the newer “wearable trackers” – Nike+ Fuleband, Jawbone up and the Fitbit Flex.
- Phone apps – there are many
The Accupedo Phone App
This review is about a phone app. The short answer on why I went with the phone app is that there was a free version to try, and the paid version is only like $3.99. The classic belt/hip pedometers are neat, but I don’t need to wear something on my hip. The wearable trackers extend a lot of functionality (sleep tracking?!?), but again they are something to wear. Each could likely have its own review. I was most tempted by the ones that will vibrate if you have been sitting for too long. Bottom line, for over $100, I am not convinced they are worth it. How long will I pay attention to them anyway? The phone application makes sense, if they work.
I chose Accupedo based on reviews on Google Play. There seemed to be two or three with good reviews. I have an Droid Razr Maxx that I am using for the app. I may have tried one or two, but Accupedo does seem to work and has a simple interface and lasted on my phone. I say “may” because I was on some heavy pain killers the first day or two and some things are foggy.
Accupedo makes it clear that it may not work on your phone. That is the nice think about the free option. I think the difference between the free and paid options are the graphs. So, I installed in on my phone and tried it out. I am doing this right after back surgery, so I am not walking normally yet. I had to tweak the settings to get it to measure my small steps which I was able to do. I found that it doesn’t always work when I am talking on my phone, but as long as it is in my pocket, it works well. They mention the best thing is to have it on your hip.
There are some options to help with the time, distance and calories. I have no idea how close these are. The main things I’ve adjusted are the consecutive steps and sensitivity. Consecutive steps weeds out the occasional bump and general standing; it starts counting after you hit that threshold. The sensitivity relates to how hard you step, it can render a long walk with 50 steps or 2000. The “more sensitive” seems to be the right setting for me now. I’m glad I have those options. I do think there were a few times that it wasn’t working so I restarted my phone a few times. I don’t know if I needed to or not. I’ve been using it for about a week, and at this point, I haven’t tweaked it in about 2 days and it is behaving.
Once I decided it is working and I liked it, I purchased it. A nice feature is that the upgraded one automatically picks up the data from the free one. A simple process.
The hardest part about rehabbing from a surgery is feeling like you are either not progressing, or going backwards. Before the surgery, I lost most control of my right leg. I now have it, but it is limited and walking is hard. The graphs instantly show me that I’ve made progress. In the first days, I was playing with the settings, so the number of steps is not consistent. For now, things should be more stable. Maybe not 100% accurate, but at least consistent. Mileage will vary with your phone.
So I am happy with it so far. It may not do all of the things the fancy bands do, but for $3.99 it is almost a no brainer. I have my phone with me most of the time, so there is little effort to remember to use it. It does use some batter, but I do not see any greater battery use because of it; meaning my phone runs out just about the same (Razr Maxx is great with batter in the 1-2 day range already).
I’ve been using this for about a month post-surgery. I still really like it. I’m also walking better and have dialed up the consecutive steps. As my walk initially was more of a shuffle, I needed the maximum sensitivity. Now I don’t. I can probably use the normal setting now, but things are working and all of these devices are better when you are consistent.
One interesting thing I noticed going to my first doctors visit was that the car caused some phantom steps. The consecutive steps actually seemed to fix that.