June 5, 2009, Newsletter Issue #28: Pedometers and HR Monitors

Tip of the Week

Here are a couple of items that are not strictly Nordic walking gear but can be of interest to anybody doing aerobic exercise of any kind.


Heart rate monitors, often used by runners, are not popular with everyone, but those people who like them like them a lot. The purpose is to keep track of your heart rate as you exercise to make sure you stay in your training zone. Most people have trouble getting an accurate pulse rate while they are exercising, and these devices are indeed accurate. (Yes, you can use one in your aerobics class.) However, the standard equations for getting your training HR zone may not be right for you. Current heart rate monitors can figure your calories expended, set up a training program for you, and have memory functions, depending on the model. The dominant company for this device is Polar. If you want to buy another brand, make sure you check out Polar so you can make comparisons. (I'm not recommending Polar or any other brand. I just want to make sure you comparison shop before buying a heart rate monitor, if you decide you want one.


Pedometers are low-cost devices used mostly by fitness walkers, but you can use them with Nordic walking as well. These are very popular and fun to use. Unlike traditional pedometers, you don't have to measure your stride length. These are really step counters, but we will call them pedometers, because that is the term commonly used. A pedometer basically counts how many steps you take, although some have other features. It just clips on your waistband, and does not require a chest strap like most heart rate monitors. On average, 2000 steps equals one mile (left, right is 2 steps). To get a more accurate number for yourself, wear your pedometer and walk a mile measured by your car's odometer, or just walk four laps of a quarter-mile track. You will get a different number for walking, running, or probably for Nordic walking. There is a popular exercise goal to walk 10,000 steps per day, but you can also use a pedometer to just make sure you do more than you have been doing. You can use it all day for all activities, but remember you get more for your steps with Nordic walking. The 10,000 step protocol is useful for improving fitness and has been shown to help weight loss, but by itself it won't get you the level of fitness you can get with more challenging exercise, like Nordic walking. There's no reason you can't use a pedometer to monitor and improve your amount of daily activity, and do Nordic walking to get a more complete and engaging workout.

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