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Talking Pedometer - Do You Need One?
I used to think that the talking pedometer was somewhat akin to that silly dog pedometer - a gimmick that you might use a use a couple of times before placing it in a bottom drawer, in advance of adding it to the junk at your next garage sale.
But a little research suggests that it can be a useful aid to those working to lose weight and boost fitness.
For the short-sighted who don't want to carry their reading glasses during their exercise workout, or for those (like me) who find themselves still somewhat sleepy and blurry-eyed during an early-morning walk, the talking pedometer obviates the need to actually read the monitor. A small thing, but not unimportant.
Also, you don't need to interrupt your walk to check your progress. And some devices incorporate music or a rhythm that can be adjusted in accord with your desired pace.
In fact, some pedometers inform you of a lot more than the number of steps you have covered. Even the low-end models might tell you the distance you have walked, as well as the elapsed time. And more expensive units can tell you how many calories you have burned, as well as incorporating a radio.
An example is the popular Sportline 343 Talking Calorie Counter Pedometer. According to the company:
This unique pedometer tracks your steps, distance, calories burned and exercise time and it SPEAKS to you in a pleasant voice. You don't need to stop to check the pedometer, it will talk to you.
Or the Oregon Scientific PE829 Talking Pedometer (pictured):
This stylish pedometer measures distance walked, calories and steps. Announcements for walking functions and data are delivered conveniently though the headphones. An FM tuner features 5, user-selectable channel presets and auto-scan. Pacer beep keeps the user on track toward exercise goals.
The best place to check the range of talking pedometers is at commercial sites like Amazon.com, which has more than 25 on offer, from a dozen manufacturers.
Unfortunately, the pedometer market is so vast, with such an array of products, and at such a range of prices, that it is hard to find objective reviews. So sites like Amazon.com and Epinions are especially useful for their buyer reviews.
Thus, you will quickly learn that it may be better to skip the cheaper models in favor of something more durable.
For example, here is an excerpt from an Amazon.com user review of one of the cheapest talking pedometers on the market:
I can't adequately convey the sheer sonic torture inflicted by this tiny, horrible device....Once you slip the piece of paper out to engage the battery contact, it's all downhill from there--every time there is a vibration in the room, a series of annoying, tinny sounding melodies erupt from it.
And walking? If this music is meant to be motivational, the only thing it motivated me to do was to put the pedometer on the ground and stomp on it to make it stop.
Yes, that's right--you can't turn the sound off.
For several months this thing was lost in my house, and each and every morning at 5 am (during daylight savings time) it shrilly announced IT IS SIX O CLOCK A.M. IT IS SIX O CLOCK A.M. over and over.
Fortunately, some excellent talking pedometers are also available.
But do you really need one? Probably not. A regular silent pedometer will be sufficient for most people. Though perhaps the "companionship" of that voice will be an encouragement.
And if that's what it takes to motivate you to exercise regularly, then, yes, you should certainly have one.
Here are links to reports I've written, summarizing reviews of the most popular pedometers for sale:
Updated December 12th, 2009