May 9, 2023


Wellspring provides pedometers for all campers and students. Pedometers are remarkable devices that sit on your hip and count each step you take. Some cheaper pedometers (less than $10) do this with a spring mechanism that may not measure steps accurately. The better pedometers involve a sensitive ball-like mechanism that moves up and down with your stride, as the elevation of your hip changes ever so slightly.

Wearing a pedometer is critical to measuring activity relative to your daily goal of 10,000 steps. The pedometer revolution started in Japan about forty years ago and made its way to the U.S. and Canada after researchers at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas demonstrated their importance in promoting activity. Just last week, a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association reiterated the importance of wearing a pedometer for successful weight loss and long-term weight control.

You can get an accurate pedometer for about $20, such as those made by Kenz, Accusplit, Yamax, and New Lifestyles (see and Wellspring purchases pedometers through Accusplit and typically use the AE120XL model.

Rather than purchasing just one pedometer for your weight controller, however, we recommend buying one for every member of the family. If everyone wears a pedometer, pedometers will feel more “normal” for your weight controller. We also find that siblings tend to get competitive about steps. It also tends to produce moments like this:

If your family wears pedometers, then all the better ’cause it’s a lot easier to do it as a group activity. It’s more normal and easier if you have a group of people around to do it with you. – Lawrence M.

The Simple Advantages of Focusing on Steps
Wellspring’s program is based on the KISSeS principle – Keep It Scientific, Simple and Sustainable. The goal of 10,000 steps also meets all three S’s.

  • Scientific: Successful weight controllers move a lot more than average people. In general, maintaining a high level of activity helps maintain weight loss more than any other single factor that has been studied. The graph below demonstrates the power of activity for long-term weight control. In this study, Dr. Ross Andersen and his colleagues from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine followed 33 overweight women through 16 weeks of a structured cognitive-behavioral treatment program and then for one-year after the program ended. The women lost an average of 18 lbs. during treatment and the graph shows what happened after that. The group that reported relatively high activity levels fared far better than the least active group. This more active one third of the participants, on average, achieved the goal of at least 30 minutes of activity per day at least 5 of 7 days per week for 79% of the weeks during the year of the follow-up. This level of activity is close to the 10,000 steps per day goal. The least active third of in the study achieved that goal during only 19% of the weeks in the follow-up period.


  • Simple: Simple behavioral directives provide clear direction for actions, easily measured goals, and readily available feedback about progress. Wearing a pedometer provides great feedback, especially because feeling it on your hip or looking at it over the course of the day helps remind weight controllers about their commitment. The direction for action and the goal are certainly clear and measurable: Walk enough to reach 10,000 on your pedometer every day.
  • Sustainable: Walking is the preferred form of activity for most people. Young weight controllers at Wellspring enjoy walking a lot more if their iPods or Walkmans are attached to their ears. Walkers and runners actually move more and at higher intensities (faster) when listening to music. Many of our alumni families walk together, shop together, and use this very natural form of movement to create a more active lifestyle.
Supporting 10,000 Steps
My brother or my sister works out with me quite a bit. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to work out, but I get encouraged by my brother, my sister, or my mom and I just do it with them or sometimes by myself. – Jesse G.
My family really supports me. Sam, my brother, exercises with me. – Dan K.
When I was home for a few months, I first noticed that I wasn’t moving very much and I gained two pounds. Once I realized that, I really knew that I needed to work out. So I just started going, going and going. I went to the health club and I kept working out and lost six pounds while I was at home for three months. The biggest help was that my mom was willing to get up with me at 6 a.m. before school. I asked her if she would go walking with me every morning and she did. – Annya M.

Your family may already do this to some extent. For example, many families will walk (or play touch football, or engage in some other family activity) prior to a Thanksgiving feast. This is exactly what we have in mind, only more than once a year! Walking is the most accessible and sustainable activity imaginable and, unlike most other forms of activity which require preparation, transportation and equipment, walking can be done at any time- even before breakfast.

Sitting versus Standing versus Moving
The following table also helps make the point about the critical role of steps. Take a look at the differences between “sitting or lying down” versus “standing quietly” versus “walking fast.” Standing up expends 20% more energy than sitting down. Walking fast expends more than 300% more energy than sitting down.

Sitting vs. Standing vs. Moving – Calories Expended per Minute
Sitting or Lying Down2.0 calories per minute
Standing quietly2.4 calories per minute
Walking Fast (4 mph)8.2 calories per minute
Running (9 min. mile)17.6 calories per minute

Even shopping expends almost three times more energy as sitting, as long as you keep moving. (Then when you buy something, at least you get the benefit of standing, a 20% boost in energy expenditure.) Courtney knows the step value of shopping:

I try to take my dog at least three times a week to go to the local park and run around with her. I hang out in a local dance studio a lot. I shop a lot. – Courtney D.

Some adult weight controllers even purchase desks that allow them to stand up (e.g., drafting tables) just to get that extra 20% energy expenditure. If you can help your weight controller view obtaining steps and expending energy as a good thing, you’ve just done a great deal to support his or her likelihood of long-term success.