Pedometer Walking Program – Create A Simple Personalized Walking Program

Do you know how to get the most out of your step counter? Simply wearing a step counter is going to get  boring fast!

In order to gain all the benefits of using a pedometer, you need a pedometer walking program that is both easy and challenging at the same time.

Establish Your Baseline

Before you start your walking program, you need to define your current level of physical activity.

Your first task is  to simply measure your daily steps for 3-7 consecutive days, wearing your step counter from dawn to dusk. It’s a good idea to include both workdays and days off in your measurement period.

This is also a great way to assess your level of physical activity.

TIP: It’s important to avoid the temptation of changing your daily routine during the measurement period.  It might be a good idea to tape the screen of your pedometer ( if you use a model with a flap, just keep it closed) so you don’t see your numbers during the day.

Remove the tape and jot down your daily steps just before you go to bed.

An Example Of Calculating Your Baseline

Let’s say Susan walks for 4 consecutive days to establish her baseline. Her daily steps are 5,634, 3,477, 6,545 and 2,555. To get her baseline, Susan adds the four numbers together and divides the sum with four = (3,634+3,477+6,545+2,555) / 4 ≈ 4,553 steps. (This means Susan is in the sedentary group).

Two Progressive Pedometer Walking Programs

Now you’re ready to create your own pedometer program! Below are my instructions for two simple programs: both are based on gradually increasing your daily steps, with the difference that program #2 proceeds more briskly than program #1. If you like challenges, choose program #2.

You’re supposed to set yourself a new step goal every week until you reach your long-term goal. More about long-term goals later.

Program 1: Add 500 Steps* Program

In 500 steps program you simply add 500 to your baseline to get a step goal for your first week. Thus,  Susan’s first week step goal is 4553 + 500 = 5053 steps.

During the first week Susan strives to add 500 steps every day, but doesn’t quite make it. Her average step count for Week 1 is 4950 steps. Based on that number, her second step goal is 4950 + 500 =  5450 steps. The step goals for the following weeks are calculated in the same way, till you reach your main goal.

Program 2: The 20% Boost Program**

The 20% boost program was originally devised  by Felton and Bennett.  In this program, you calculate your first step goal by taking 20 % of the baseline and adding the result to the baseline.

Susan’s first week step goal would be 1.2 x 4,553 = 5464 steps.

Let’s say this time Susan’s average for week 1 is 5200 steps, so her step goal for week 2 is 1.2 x 5200 = 6240 steps. And so on.

Setting a Long-Term Step Goal

What should your “ultimate” step goal be? An often quoted step goal is 10,000 steps/day which roughly corresponds to walking 5 miles. In most cases that’s enough for healthy adults, but nothing prevents you from aiming higher.

10,000 steps a day is sufficient to gain all health benefits of walking.

For children and adolescents, the goal should considerably higher than 10,000 steps, i.e. 16,000 steps per day. For elderly people and people with health issues, 7,000 – 8,000 steps per day might be a more realistic goal.

Happy walking! 🙂




*State of Wisconsin Pedometer Walking Program (PDF)
**Fenton & Bassett: Pedometer Walking

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