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Can your step-counter count?

As someone who probably should've been diagnosed with hyperactivity disorder decades ago, I've never really had a problem being active and never really understood the 10,000 step bandwagon that many people have jumped on. What I have been interested in, though, is finding a good heart-rate monitor that I could use in the pool from time-to-time on certain training sets to help benchmark my conditioning and performance. I tried models over the last couple of years from both Mio and Fitbit, but found them frustrating for two core reasons: bulk of the wristband and lack of a true 'instant read' feature. And, while I'm not a slave to fashion, they were also pretty darn ugly.

My oldest daughter recently turned me onto the Wtihings Steel HR watch which I got in late May

and have been playing around with it. Due to my slow recovery in the pool from my shoulder rehab, I am not yet at a point in my swim training where I am capable of repeating one of my prior heart-rate training sets, but I hope to do that in the near future. Anecdotally, when comparing the heart rate measurement on the watch vs. blood pressure machines in drugstores, the treadmill at my gym and doing a resting HR check with my fingers on my carotid, this watch produces very consistent HR measurements. I'll come back and do a more structured HR comparison in a future post.

Knowing that my iPhone SE also tracks my steps and that many people are using their phones these days to get to their 10,000 step goal, I decided to do some comparisons under different conditions:

  • Running on the treadmill

  • All day activity / step-counting

  • Walking the dogs

In each of the comparisons in the table below, I have had my phone in my pocket (usually wearing athletic shorts) and my watch on my arm. On the 'all-day' comparisons, I did these on weekend days, put the watch on and phone in my pocket as soon as I got out of bed, and took them off at the same time:

Now, this is admittedly a small sample and I cannot say which number is right, but the iPhone was consistently higher, dramatically so when I looked at my all-day step count comparisons. Intuitively, with my phone in my pants pocket, I would think the iPhone is correct, but more research is needed. This coming weekend, I am going to do a three-way comparison, wearing my Steel HR on one wrist, a Fitbit Surge on the other wrist and my iPhone in my pocket.

For all you land-loving step-counters out there, can your step-counter count?

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