Home Blog Blog | Some Steps are More Equal Than Others
Mar 4, 2016

All Steps are Equal, But Some Steps are More Equal Than Others

Subscribe to our blog

For the past couple of years I’ve exercised under the theory that a step is a step is a step. And to an extent, this is obviously true. Activity trackers do a marvelous job of recognizing when my foot hits the ground and adding another step to the daily count – one down, 9,999 to go, and so on. Having said that, in the back of my mind I’ve always known that a running step should be worth more than a walking step as the heart rate is higher and I definitely “feel the burn” far more.

But apparently I was completely and utterly wrong: in reality, a step taken while running has less value than a walking step. Confused? Me too. And as we see the integration of step counters into more products, such as sneakers, it’s worth taking a closer look at the benefits of step counting overall. At a standard walking pace, 2,000 steps will take you almost exactly one mile in distance, meaning that you will need to walk roughly five miles to hit that daily goal of 10,000 steps. In reality, it’s a little less – closer to 4.5 miles, since we sometimes shuffle around our homes rather than striding purposefully forward all the time. And herein lies the issue: it’s the stride that should count the most, not the step.

When you run, you take longer strides. A single step will take you further in distance and, over time, that really adds up. So while one mile of walking equals 2,000 steps, a mile of running is only 1,400 steps. In other words, if I walk – rather than run – I can hit my step goal with less effort. Sweet


Or not really, as the whole point here is recovery, and improving fitness. So I’ve come to a few conclusions. First, step counting is still a valid way of scoring improvement for the many consumers who just want to push themselves to walk a little further and become a little healthier. Bottom line: it works, and people like it. Without such a simple model, I suspect that the activity tracker market would not have grown as quickly as it has.

Second, as the activity tracker market continues to evolve towards a more sports-oriented consumer, the measurement tools need to change. In some ways, this goes back to the beginning, when Nike talked of “Fuel” rather than steps. The most recent variation on this theme is Mio’s PAI (Personal Activity Intelligence), which is focused on heart rate measurement more than steps. But a heart-rate dominated measurement may be a little too sports-oriented for mere mortals to get excited about. The true measurement is, I suspect, a hybrid of steps, distance and exertion. It may also need to be calculated differently for different sports (steps are not always useful after all). 

Whatever the actual calculation formula is, the company that successfully merges today’s step counting with a more sports-oriented angle should be able to gain the hearts and minds of the athletic crowd that is looking to count all of their activity in a day, not just the steps taken walking to and from the gym.



Stay current in your industry
SUBSCRIBE

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Connected Intelligence


IFA Goes Mobile
IFA Goes Mobile

IFA hasn’t historically received much attention from the mobile world, but that’s been changing as smartphone vendors shift their focus from overly mature markets like the U.S. to EMEA markets where there are still growth opportunities. Industry analyst, Brad Akyuz, highlights some of the mobile announcements from this year’s show.

What’s Up Apple’s Sleeve This September?
What’s Up Apple’s Sleeve This September?

For those of us living in the northern hemisphere, the beginning of September marks the end of the summer with colder weather ahead. But if you are one of the 900 million iPhone owners, and especially if it’s time to replace your current device, September also marks the grand unveiling of Apple’s latest and greatest in the iPhone series and more.

The T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Inches Towards Closure
The T-Mobile/Sprint Merger Inches Towards Closure

The T-Mobile/Sprint merger is (almost) complete, having passed the major hurdle of gaining approval from the Department of Justice (DoJ) on Friday. But what have they had to sell and what does Dish need to accomplish to be successful? Read more in this blog by Eddie Hold, president of NPD Connected Intelligence.

Speak and Spell
Speak and Spell

In an era of smartphones and tablets, schools are beginning to change their curriculum, taking the focus off skills such as cursive writing. As voice-based interfaces become more pervasive, what additional changes will the future bring?

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.