Do Pedometers Work With Bicycles?

A family is out for a bike ride.
Image Credit: Kane Skennar/Photodisc/Getty Images

Walking 10,000 steps per day is equivalent to 30 minutes of activity, according to America's Walking. A pedometer measures your steps while you walk; some models convert your steps into distance in miles. Some pedometers are specially designed to work with bicycles, but it is also possible to adapt a pedometer designed for measure walking steps to work with a bicycle or even with a stationary bicycle.



Basic pedometers count your steps and often cost around 25 dollars, according to Harvard Health Publications. More advanced models calculate the distance you cover and count the number of calories burned. Use the belt clip to position the pedometer near your hip bone, REI suggests. The most accurate pedometers include an accelerometer, an electromechanical device that measures acceleration. Other advanced models allow you to download data into your computer.


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Bicycling vs. Walking

Bicycling and walking use the same muscle groups and bones for their major motions: legs, hips, thighs and feet. As a cardiovascular exercise, bicycling provides similar benefits as walking or even more strenuous activities such as dancing. However, as a non weight-bearing exercise, bicycling places less stress on your joints and preserves cartilage, according to Healthy Women. Bicycling also preserves cartilage and can make it easier for overweight people to begin exercising, according to Lisa Callahan, MD, of the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.


Using a Pedometer

Establish a baseline of your daily activity level by wearing a pedometer for a week. Reset the pedometer to zero each day, and record any unusual activity along with the number of steps recorded by the pedometer, America's Walking suggests. Attach the pedometer to your shoe so it can count your pedal strokes as "steps" while you ride. Once you have established a baseline, increase your activity level by increments of 20 percent until you have reached your goal of steps or pedal strokes per day.


Pedometers and Bicycles

Unless you pedal constantly, the number of "steps" the pedometer records while you ride a bicycle will be much lower than the number of steps you take during a walk of similar length, America's Walking states. This lower number may indicate that you are coasting and therefore expending less energy during your ride, even when you cover the same number of miles as you travel while walking. Concentrate on increasing your pedal strokes or take a more challenging route while riding.



Wearing a pedometer may also motivate you to take more steps while walking or pedal more vigorously while riding, according an article published in 2007 by the "Journal of the American Medical Association," or JAMA. In the report, Dena M. Bravata, MD, and colleagues measured results from 26 studies with a total of 2767 participants. They found that participants in the studies who used pedometers increased their activity levels by an average of 2,183 steps per day.



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