Obesity among children has been on the rise in the U.S. for many years and even more so among children with autism and other developmental disabilities. One of the easiest ways to get these children to incease their exercise is to use a simple device called a pedometer.
Pedometers keep track of the number of steps taken by the wearer. Some pedometers have other features like tracking mileage, number of calories spent, heart rate and so on. The challenge is to increase the number of steps taken daily to 10,000.
Many children with autism and other developmental disabilities do not get nearly enough exercise. Many come home from school only to follow a routine schedule that does not include any form of fitness. With pedometers, exercise is causually introduced into his routine and data can be measured easily.
To start, get a reliable pedometer. The free ones given out at health promotions are notoriously inaccurate and break easily. For children with autism, there are other issues like hand flapping or arm jerking that could be counted inaccurately as steps. Selecting the right pedometer usually depends on the individual; some do well with the clip-on types, and others with the wristband types.
Here are some of the most popular on the market:
New Balance Via Steps Counter: This can be purchased at Target, Walmart and other sporting retail stores and they are the least expensive, costing about $10. The cheaper pedometers may be a good way to get started but many are inaccurate. Another New Balance pedometer, the New Balance Base, was only $4 on Amazon but received poor reviews.
Omron HJ-321 Tri-Axis Pedometer: This pedometer is one of the newest on the market. It is light, does not make clicking sounds as the cheaper ones do and can be put in a pocket as well as clipped to a belt. It also calculates calories burned. The cost is about $25 and can be purchased on Amazon.com.
Sportline Pedometer 330: The Sportline brand usually receives good reviews and this one is rated as very accurate and calculates distance. This pedometer can be purchased on Amazon.com for around $15.
Once you get a pedometer, get a baseline number of steps your child takes on a typical day, then increase that number gradually. One way to make this interactive is to get one yourself and start walking.