Using a pedometer to track how much activity your teen is experiencing can be helpful. Whether the goal is just to improve physical fitness overall or to lose weight, a pedometer can help her with her goal. If your teen is considering starting a new fitness routine, take her to the doctor for a check-up first so she can get the all-clear to begin exercise.
How Many Steps a Day Are Needed?
The amount of steps needed per day depends on your teen's goal. Generally, everyone who can, should walk a minimum of 10,000 steps per day. This is the least amount needed to improve health and reduce the risk of serious health issues in the long term. However, if your teen's goal is to lose weight and keep it off, she'll have to do more walking. In this case, the goal for steps each day should be 12,000 to 15,000.
Build Up Gradually
Initially, your teen should just monitor her steps for the first few days with the pedometer to get a feel for where she's at already, fitness wise. From there, she can increase her step goals slowly, such as adding 20 percent to her daily steps each week until she reaches her goal consistently, says PBS. For example, if she is already walking 10,000 steps a day and wishes to increase, she would add 2,000 steps the first week for a total of 12,000, and then add 20 percent to 12,000 the next week, for a total of 14,400 steps per day. To increase her steps, she could try walking to school instead of driving or taking a bus, parking farther away from the entrance at stores, or walking on her high school track, if one is available.
Where to Get a Pedometer and What to Expect From It
Pedometers are available in many sporting goods stores, department stores, specialty stores and online. A basic pedometer will simply count your teen's steps, nothing more. Pricier versions of the pedometer may have a GPS feature so your teen can keep track of locations walked, a memory feature that allows teens to compare how many steps they have walked on different days, and some even have a blood pressure tracker. Another option, if your teen has a smartphone, is to check if there is a pedometer app available for her model phone. Some apps are even free, and since teens frequently have their cell phones attached to them, this may be a better option for some instead of needing to remember to bring an extra device every morning. Examples of free pedometer apps include Pacer, LogYourRun and MapMyWalk.
How to Use a Pedometer
To accurately count her steps, your teen should use the pedometer from the moment she gets out of bed until she goes to sleep for the night, except when she's in the shower or swimming. It's important that she remember to reset the pedometer counter each morning so that she doesn't get confused or think she's walking more than she actually is. Pedometers clip to a belt loop or into the top of your teen's waistband. Pedometers only count steps, so if your teen also does other activities such as biking or rowing, the pedometer will not keep track of these activities.