Walking is one of the easiest ways to incorporate aerobic exercise into your daily life, and Shape Up America, a nonprofit group founded by former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, recommends that every American accumulate at least 10,000 steps a day. How do you know when you’ve reached 10,000 steps? One of the easiest ways to track your steps is with a pedometer. This pager-sized device, worn on your belt or shoe, records the number of steps you take based on your movement. It can track your steps not only when you're walking, but also when you're jogging or running. Research has shown that people who use pedometers are more likely to add 2,000 steps each day compared with their steps before using a pedometer.

To ensure you're getting the most out of your pedometer, follow these guidelines.

Keep the pedometer close to your body and horizontal. Pedometers need to be parallel to the ground and snug to the body to work correctly. If they are tilted or not touching the body, they won't be accurate. The best location for a pedometer is on your waistline or a belt directly over your knee.

Develop a routine. A pedometer can only track your steps if you're wearing it! Store the pedometer on the nightstand. Put it on first thing in the morning. Take it off right before going to bed. You may want to keep a journal on your nightstand to track your daily steps.

Set goals. Although the long-term recommendation for daily steps is 10,000, not everyone will have the stamina to start at this level. The first step is to determine your baseline physical activity level. To do this, wear the pedometer for one week without altering your typical routine, making note of your starting point. Then set a goal to gradually increase your steps each week until you reach 10,000 daily steps. For example, if the first week you were at 2,000 steps per day, you may set a goal to increase an additional 200 steps per day for the first week. Continue to set new goals and increase your steps.

Find opportunities to move. There are many opportunities throughout the day to move. Consider these options:

  • Take the stairs rather than the elevator.
  • Park at the far end of the parking lot.
  • Take walking breaks at work.
  • Take a walk with your spouse, child, or friend.
  • Walk the dog before and after work.
  • Walk to the store.
  • Get up to change the channel.
  • Plan a walking meeting at work.
  • Walk over to visit a neighbor.
  • Get outside to do some gardening or pull weeds.
  • Take a 5-minute walk after dinner.
  • Walk around the house during commercial breaks.

Check out our Medi-Weightloss Clinics® Pedometer.