Step trackers, which some people call pedometers, monitor the number of steps a person takes during the day. These devices may help individuals keep an eye on their activity levels.

A quick look at 10 of the best step trackers

This article explores step trackers in more detail and provides a list of the devices, watches, and apps that people may find useful in their fitness journey.

Step tracker definition

In their most basic form, step trackers count the number of steps a person takes. However, step tracking can be an extra feature of fitness tracker devices, which may also monitor calorie intake, heart rate, workouts, and more.

A person can purchase a step tracker as a standalone device. Alternatively, they may download it as an app on their mobile device or smartwatch.

Effectiveness and benefits

A 2017 review highlights several benefits of step counting and step trackers, including:

  • measuring a person’s physical activity
  • potentially increasing activity in previously inactive people
  • improving a person’s motivation
  • being easy to use

A 2020 study suggests that adults who walk 8,000 or more steps a day have a lower risk of death from several diseases compared with those walking 4,000 steps a day.

Additionally, a 2019 study notes that short-term pedometer walking interventions may be helpful to reduce incidences of heart problems and fractures in older adults. 


There is little scientific research exploring the risks of step trackers. However, anecdotal evidence suggests some people stopped using them due to obsessive checking and goalsetting.

Some evidence also shows that pedometers may not be accurate. In a 2017 study examining the accuracy of four brands, researchers concluded that three of the four pedometers underestimated the number of steps a participant took.

Additionally, if a person is new to exercise or has underlying health conditions that may affect their breathing, they should ease themselves into longer periods of physical activity.

How to use

Individuals can use a step-tracking or pedometer app on their smartphone or smartwatch.

Once a person downloads the app, their smartphone or watch will track the number of steps they take. The app may also generate graphs and statistics relating to their physical activity. This allows an individual to monitor their level of activity in greater detail.

Alternatively, separate gadgets explicitly designed for step and fitness tracking are also available. People may wear them on their wrist, waist, or other body parts according to the product’s design to estimate how many steps they took and additional potential health information.

How we chose

Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Connectivity: Where fitness equipment has fitness memberships or subscriptions, MNT ensures variation in classes and services that benefit a person’s health.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Ease of use: MNT selects simple-to-use products that have clear instructions. If set-up is complicated, MNT chooses brands that offer a set-up or installation service.

List of devices and apps

Many devices and apps can help a person track their steps. The following products may interest those looking for step-counting devices and apps.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

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Best for smaller budgets: 3DTriSport pedometer

3DTriSport pedometer
  • List price: around $25
  • Average customer rating: 4.2 out of 5

This device comes in a range of colors. It is easy to set up, making it suitable for anyone.

A person can clip this small device to their pocket, wear it around their neck, or place it in their bag.

In addition to tracking steps, it offers information about distance covered and calories burned. It also allows people to set daily step goals.

Pros and cons

This pedometer has a memory of 30 days and features a 12-month battery life and an 18-month warranty. Additionally, it has a daily target monitor and a large, easy-to-read text display.

However, this pedometer does not have any additional features such as Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity. People cannot synchronize their steps to any smart device or track additional metrics such as heart rate.

Best for children: Fitbit Ace Activity Tracker

  • List price: around $74
  • Average customer rating: 4.6 out of 5 stars

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advise that children 6–17 years old should exercise for at least 1 hour each day.

This Fitbit Ace Activity Tracker is suitable for children 6 years and above. As well to tracking steps, it tracks sleep, includes a 1-hour daily active goal, and sends reminders to encourage the child to be active.

It also features parental controls and a parent view, allowing parents and caregivers to monitor their child’s activity.

Pros and cons

Fitbit markets this smartwatch specifically for children, which may help encourage them to remain active with challenges and badges. Additionally, adults can supervise how a child uses the tracker through parental controls. Fitbit also offers a 1-year warranty.

However, this wearable does not track heart rate and does not offer GPS.

Best for older adults: OZO Fitness C3D Pedometer

  • List price: around $20
  • Average customer rating: 3.7 out of 5 stars

This step tracker is likely to suit older adults, as it features a large digital screen with easy-to-read numbers and symbols.

A person can clip this pedometer onto their clothes using the removable belt clip. Each purchase also comes with a lanyard to wear the device around their neck.

The device has a 7-day memory and automatically resets all information at midnight. Additionally, the screen automatically dims, and the device sends visual and audible target reminders.

Pros and cons

This pedometer also tracks steps, tracks distance in miles and kilometers, and the calories an individual has burned during the day.

Unlike other devices in this list, this step tracker has no other features, making it simple to use and understand. This may make it a suitable option for older adults or those who prefer using less technology.

However, OZO Fitness does not state whether it offers a warranty on this product. Additionally, people will have to note down their fitness metrics if they wish to keep track of them after seven days.

Best app for tracking health and fitness goals: Pacer

  • List price: free with optional in-app purchases
  • Average customer rating on the App Store: 4.9 out of 5 stars
  • Average customer rating on Google Play: 4.8 out of 5 stars

The Pacer app is available for Apple and Android users. This free app counts steps and tracks calories burned, distance traveled, and the amount of time a person has been active.

Although the app is free, a person can choose to purchase premium features, for which plans start from $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year. The subscription includes access to guided workouts, advanced data reports and insights, and weight loss coaching programs.

Pros and cons

An individual can also connect the Pacer app with other apps, such as MyFitnessPal and the Apple Health App. They can also track weight and body mass index over time and share their data with family and friends.

However, people will have to pay an ongoing subscription access premium features.

Best app for personal training: Map My Walk

  • List price: free with optional in-app purchases
  • Average customer rating on the App Store: 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Average customer rating on Google Play: 4.8 out of 5 stars

This free app provides statistics and feedback to help people improve their performance. It also provides ideas for new routes. 

People can choose to pay either $5.99 per month or $29.99 per year for a premium subscription to access additional content, such as personal training plans and an ad-free experience when using the app.

Pros and cons

Instead of tracking steps, this app tracks distance, duration, and pace. This can help individuals who wish to become regular walkers or runners to increase their distance over time.

However, this app does not provide any sleep tracking or heart rate monitoring.

Best for marathon training: Garmin Vívoactive® 4

  • List price: around $330
  • Average customer rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

The Garmin Vívoactive 4 also includes free 5K, 10K, and half-marathon training.

The Vívoactive also offers a variety of features that people can use during workouts. The watch can track fitness metrics for over 20 exercises, including yoga, running, and swimming. Additionally, the watch can map activities using GPS and store and play music.

An individual can also use this watch to view phone calls, text messages, and calendar alerts if they pair it with their smartphones.

Pros and cons

In addition to tracking steps, this smartwatch can track:

  • respiration
  • menstrual cycles
  • stress
  • sleep
  • estimated heart rate
  • hydration

This smartwatch also has a safety and tracking feature. If the watch detects an incident, it can send an alert to a person’s emergency contact. However, people must pair their watch to their smartphone to use this capability.

However, this watch only has up to 6 hours of battery life if a person is using GPS and music. Additionally, it is one of the more expensive options available.

Best for Android users: Fitbit Versa 3

  • List price: around $265
  • Average customer rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars

The Fitbit Versa 3 is a fitness watch that tracks steps, distance traveled, and other health and fitness metrics.

A person can connect the smartwatch to their smartphone using Fitbit’s free app. Additionally, people can purchase a subscription to unlock premium features, such as more detailed fitness dashboards and fitness programs.

Pros and cons

The Fitbit Versa 3 can display text and call notifications if a person pairs it with their smartphone. Additionally, Android users can send quick reply messages to their contacts through the smartwatch.

However, this watch may not be the best option for people with Apple devices, as they cannot reply to messages on the smartwatch. Additionally, people will need to pay a subscription to unlock premium features, such as fitness programs.

Best for iPhone users: StepsApp

  • List price: free with optional in-app purchases
  • Average customer rating on the App Store: 4.8 out of 5 stars
  • Average customer rating on Google Play: 4.6 out of 5 stars

This app counts steps, measures traveling distance, tracks calories and provides health insights.

While this app is free to download, people can choose to upgrade for premium features for $4.99 per month or $19.99 per year.

Pros and cons

This app features Apple Health integration and Apple Watch support. Additionally, it is available in more than 20 languages and is suitable for people in wheelchairs.

However, this app does not offer sleep tracking or heart rate monitoring.

Best ring pedometer: OURA Ring Gen 3

  • List price: from $299
  • Average customer rating: no information available

This titanium ring may be suitable for people who prefer not to wear wristwatches or have their phones on them while walking or working out.

In addition to steps, this ring also tracks heart rate and body temperature. All metrics sync automatically with the free companion app.

It has a battery life of four to seven days depending on how people use it and integrates with its own app, which is available on iOS and Android. Oura offers a one-year warranty.

Pros and cons

This product tracks activity, menstrual cycles, and sleep. It is also available in three different colors, lighter than standard titanium rings, and is water resistant up to 100 meters.

However, this ring does not offer GPS tracking. Additionally, the company does not state whether it can resize the rings.

Best for wireless charging: Samsung Galaxy Watch4

  • List price: from $239.99
  • Average customer rating: 3.9 out of 5 stars

This smartwatch tracks fitness metrics including steps, as well as featuring electrocardiogram (ECG) monitoring, coaching, and workout tracking.

Additionally, this product features Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. People can also charge this device wirelessly.

Samsung offers a one-year warranty.

Pros and cons

This watch also features LTE technology. This means a person can make calls and send text messages even if they are in an area without WiFi or if they are without their phone. However, a person must have a phone that runs on Android 6.0 or later.

However, this watch has a battery life of 40 hours, which may decrease the more features a person uses. This may not be suitable for people who prefer products with longer battery lives.

Comparison chart

The following table compares the step trackers in this article.

Type of trackerHeart rate monitorGPSSleep monitoringWarrantyList price
3DTriSportwearablenot availablenot availablenot available18 monthsaround $24.99
Fitbit Acewearablenot availablenot availableavailableone yeararound $74
OZO Fitnesswearablenot availablenot available not availableno information availablearound $20
Pacerappnot available available not available nonefree
Map My Walkappnot availableavailable not availablenonefree
Garminwearableavailable available available one yeararound $330
Fitbit Versa 3wearableavailable available available one yeararound $265
StepsAppappnot available available not availablenonefree
OURA Ringwearableavailable not available available one yearfrom $299
Samsung Galaxywearableavailable available available one yearfrom $239.99

How to shop for step trackers

Some factors to consider when shopping for step trackers include:

  • Type of tracker: People may wish to consider how they exercise. Using a smartphone app may be less expensive, however, it requires a person to keep the device with them. Smartwatches or other wearables may be more convenient to wear and can synchronize with smart devices.
  • Features: Some step trackers have features such as GPS, sleep tracking, hydration, and menstrual cycle monitoring. Others only track steps.
  • Warranty: People may wish to ensure the product they choose has a warranty period to protect against any defects or damage.
  • Cost: The more features a step tracker has, the more expensive it is to purchase. People may wish to consider which features they require before buying a product.

When to contact a doctor

People who experience pain during movement or exercise that does not resolve itself with rest should consider contacting a doctor for further advice and treatment.

The CDC also suggests that those who are pregnant should talk with healthcare professionals about how to adapt their physical activity throughout pregnancy and after birth.

Frequently asked questions about step trackers

Here we answer some common questions about these products.

How do I know if my pedometer is accurate?

One way to assess the accuracy of a pedometer is to count how many steps a person does and compare it to the reading on their device.

Some pedometers ask for a person’s metrics, such as their height, to estimate how many steps they take. If a pedometer is not accurate, people should contact the manufacturer for advice, replacements, or refunds.

What is the difference between fitness trackers and smartwatches?

Fitness trackers are devices that primarily focus on tracking health and fitness data.

Smartwatches, on the other hand, are watches that track fitness data and may also provide messaging and call features. These watches can synchronize steps and exercises with an app on a smart device.

Are phone pedometers accurate?

Not necessarily. A 2017 article tested three apps among 48 participants on a treadmill with incremental speeds. The study found that two of the three apps were inaccurate by nearly 20%.


A person may consider purchasing a step tracker to monitor and increase their physical activity.

Depending on what individuals are looking for, they may consider a step-tracking app or device. Alternatively, they may consider devices that monitor general fitness, such as a smartwatch.