Kids AND Adults Benefit from Pedometers

Who knew that Leonardo da Vinci invented the pedometer?

The prolific 15th-century inventor and artist sketched what's undoubtedly the world's first pedometer. This pendulum-driven device was strapped to the leg, swinging back and forth to measure distance.

More than 500 years later, his invention — packed with high-tech features — has become all the rage in exercise circles, launching walking groups across the country.

And both adults and chidren are walking their way toward a healthier future, as research shows pedometers do inspire lasting change.

People like toys," said Judith Webb, manager of education for Avenidas, a Palo Alto organization dedicated to fostering the well-being of older adults. Avenidas is a co-organizer of the Lifelong Fitness Alliance in Redwood City, CA.

"Your pedometer becomes your little companion," Webb said. "And it's amazing, when you put one on, you become conscious of what you're doing."

Children benefit from pedometer as well. The We Count Pedometer Program participants (elementary school students) increased their step counts by 40% during a 16 week program.

A parent newsletter component of the program kept parents informed and provided them with physical activity choices for families. Student and parent newsletters cover topics such as: Getting Started Moving; Activity Choices; Walking Tips; Benefits of Physical Activity; Calories: How Much is Enough?; Portion Sizes: Am I Eating too Much?; and When Bigger is Not Better: Portion Sizes.

In 2006 the We Count Pedometer Walking program (published by Peaceful Playgrounds, Inc.)
received a national award called the Promising Practices in After School Programming Award.