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Know About the History and Uses of Pedometers

Shah Newaz Alam
Pedometers, with all their modern features, may seem to be a recent invention in the electronic world, but you will be surprised to know that the history of a pedometer dates back to at least 200 years from now, if not more. Here we provide you with some insight on the history and uses of this device.
It is eight in the morning and you are ready to leave for your office. You have put your wallet in your pocket, tied your wrist watch, and got your car keys. Then you remember and tie your pedometer belt on your waist. At the end of the day you are surprised to see that you have unknowingly met with the daily walking target that you have set for yourself.
Undoubtedly, a pedometer is a very useful device and is used mainly to monitor whether you are giving your body enough exercise. However, this was not the basic purpose for which the device was invented.


Thomas Jefferson, the third President, of the US is generally crowned with the invention of the pedometer. Just like his other inventions, he had not applied for a patent for this one too, so we don't actually know, whether his was the first brain to think of it. Nevertheless, it was through his efforts that the device gained its initial popularity.
Also known as the 'Tomish meter', probably after the name of its known founder, the device initially worked on the mechanical process of the swinging of a pendulum.
Now let's go back further into history. The 15th century paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci, reveal the idea of a device to monitor the distance traveled by a Roman soldier on foot. The idea materialized and the Roman army did actually carry the device. It gave a rough estimate of the distance traveled by a soldier on foot.
The device became popular in the United States, sometime around 1930, and it was marketed by the name 'Hike-o-Meter'. Later in 1965, Y. Hatano marketed the device in Japan, under the name 'Manpo-Kei'.
The initial pedometer was an analog device. It consisted of a lead ball, swinging inside the device, and solving the purpose of a pendulum. The device would be tied to the hip and with walking or any other hip motion, the lead ball would strike the walls of the meter. This was the basic source for providing the readings.
The pedometers of those times, did not give very precise readings. They were in fact, subject to a lot of errors.


The modern pedometers, undoubtedly have a lot more precision. Now, they also come integrated in mobile phones and portable music players. Initially, they found a lot of interest from sportsmen. They would generally use the device to monitor the distance which they ran. Though, soon after its introduction in 1930, it got popular among the common masses too.
People who were advised regular exercising by their doctors, also started using pedometers. Generally, it is advisable for any person to walk at least 5 miles a day. A pedometer can accurately keep track of the distance traveled by a person, on foot every day.
The process of measuring the distance is still the same i.e by sensing the hip motion, but the device has now become totally digital. It has become more sensitive and accurate. It can now differentiate very clearly when a person is walking and when he has just encountered an accidental jerk.
The device is particularly popular among diabetics and those who suffer from some chronic diseases. The device is also referred by some people as a step counter, but there is a line of demarcation that can be drawn between them and pedometers.
Step counters can just provide you with information on the number of steps you have walked in a day, while pedometers can provide you with the exact distance traveled. In fact, the GPS enabled pedometers that are available in the market, can provide with the most accurate and precise data, on the distance traveled.
Pedometers are indeed simple and compact devices. They are very user-friendly and do not need much of a calibration, before you start your daily activities. All you need to do is simply reset the count, tie it onto your hips or keep it in your pocket, and then forget about it.
At the end of the day, you can easily make out if the daily routine that you are following is helping you to achieve your target, or if you actually need to put in more effort.