Last Saturday when Toronto was so bathed in spring sunshine and warmth that every two-legged mammal seemed to emerge from hibernation, I too opted to do all my errands on foot. It took me 1,162 steps to reach the flower shop for peonies, then onward to the local bakery for cookies, at which point, I was up to 2,800. When I dropped off clothing at the dry cleaner, I had reached 6,370 steps and I took a mid-afternoon stroll for an additional 1,280. By the time I met a friend for tea, I was up to 9,638 steps.
I know this because, before I headed out, I had tucked the credit card-sized Jogi pedometer into my jacket pocket and let it log my activity. Jogi is the new health and wellness line of products from Joe Fresh. It's a clever name, pronounced "YO-gee." Introduced in January, Jogi encompasses an array of home exercise equipment: skipping rope, exercise ball, handheld toning balls, a yoga kit (mat, strap, blocks), balance board, and light wrist weights. Nothing is over $45.
The pedometer costs $10 - an absolute bargain compared to other wearable gadgets with all the bells and whistles (this one also tracks distance, calories and has a stopwatch feature). But I figured something so inexpensive couldn't possibly be accurate.
On the one hand, I was right. Shake the pedometer for a few seconds and it perceives the movement as steps. If the thing is that sensitive, then it must be overshooting my tallies. Also, there is no calibration feature that factors in stride.
My walk to work, just less than four kilometres door to door, proved the best test. For most people, the general recommendation of 10,000 steps daily equals approximately five miles or 8 km (basically, a round trip for me). When I arrived at the office, the Jogi pedometer read 6,042 steps and 3.8 km. So it wasn't entirely precise but it wasn't so far off either.
Mark Jones, a lead product developer for Jogi, explains that one of the line's main objectives is to take the intimidation factor out of exercise and says the pedometer's slim format lends itself to any time, anywhere versatility. "Most pedometers are chunky," he says by phone. "We wanted to appeal to people serious about analytics, but at the same time its slender profile makes it easy to carry."
Or, it would seem, to hang around the neck, as the neon pink gadget comes with a detachable bubblegum-pink lanyard. I doubt many people will wear it this way, especially men. But such a discreet and cheap activity tracker is a win-win, as far as I'm concerned. It's certainly a step in the right direction.