Wellbeing: Would you wear a pedometer at school?

Teachers can cover a lot of ground over the course of a working day - so is it worth keeping track with a pedometer?

Olamide Taiwo

Teacher wellbeing: Should teachers be encouraged to wear step counters at school?

As forms of exercise go, walking has a lot going for it: no faffing about with fiddly equipment, hoiking yourself into lycra or blowing half your salary on a pricey membership.

Just one foot in front of the other, and repeat – with your body getting healthier all the way.

It’s also been proven to have psychological benefits; a study of more than 1 million people found that just walking (rather than undertaking other exercise, such as team sports and swimming) led to a 10 per cent reduction in bad mental health days.

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Which should come as music to the ears of school staff, who can cover surprising distances while circulating their classrooms, patrolling corridors and playgrounds on breaktime duty and – if they’re not lucky enough to have their own rooms – hurrying from one end of the school to the other between lessons.

Teacher wellbeing

So should you get a pedometer to keep track of the miles you’re racking up each day?

Will it help you hit your fitness goals? Or could there be drawbacks to measuring your daily steps this way?

There is the question of whether it could make you more likely to just flop onto the sofa at the end of a long day.

A 2017 study by academics at Brunel University found that wearing a step counter for eight weeks actually demotivated teenagers in terms of taking exercise, rather than encouraging them to do more.

It found that the young people who wore the movement trackers felt less confident about their competence at exercising and less connected to their peers.  

Researchers from Harvard reported that wearing a step counter may not be enough in itself, but when combined with a daily goal – often 10,000 steps or five miles – it can bring benefits.

So what else should you bear in mind?

Pedometers may not be accurate

Academics at the University of Florida found that when they tested five different devices attached to people who were walking on a treadmill –  whose steps were counted manually - the devices tended to be accurate for those aged 18 to 39, but some devices undercounted the steps of people aged 40-plus.

Wearing one can be irritating

...and not just because you’re obsessed with checking if you’ve hit your daily target. There have been repeated reports of people breaking out in rashes after wearing step counters, so if you’ve got sensitive skin, be careful with the one you opt for.

It’s more fun together

Joining forces with step-counting colleagues can bring an element of friendly competition and make everyone more likely to reach their goals. It could even make a frosty break duty more bearable. 

Olamide Taiwo is a student at Ark Globe Academy Sixth Form in London

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Olamide Taiwo

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