Step Up: Best No-Screen, Modern Pedometers for Distraction-Free Walking | Health Trackers

Find out about my recommendations for the best no-screen pedometers and fitness trackers. Get fit quick.

Step Up: Best No-Screen, Modern Pedometers for Distraction-Free Walking | Health Trackers

Introduction

Experienced hiker or a beginner? A tracker can amplify what you get out of your walks. I have been tracking my own steps for years, and it has been an absolute game changer in keeping active.

Bringing along a pedometer for walks is a super-easy and quick way of boosting your daily activity by thousands of steps (🔬scientifically backed)!

You can choose the best-suited pedometer for your lifestyle with my recommendations below. Our attention is constantly being pulled in several different directions, so I have opted to find the best options without a screen.

Now, let's step into the details below.

Benefits of Using a Pedometer

What are pedometers?

Before we get into the fun tech, let's have an overview of what exactly is a pedometer. Overall, there are many various forms of pedometers (which we will get into).

The main purpose of one is to keep track of the number of steps taken by a person. This comes from the Latin word ‘ped’ which means foot; and ‘meter’ meaning to measure.

Types of pedometers

Broadly speaking, pedometers can be attached to any part of the body. Previously, placing pedometers near the hip via a strap was deemed the most accurate. For consumers, there are now more options for placement - ranging from straps, clips, bands, or even rings.

Why use a pedometer

Tacking on a pedometer while out on a walk can boost the benefits that you get out of each session. Tracking your progress over time leads to an overall sense of self-improvement. I love seeing how I have done on a weekly basis and find it useful to compare my accomplishments over time.

Use the data from tracking to feed into your motivation and keep yourself going. There are definitely some days where I am weighed down by just mundane things in life. Having a reminder or keeping up with my walking self from last week always helps put me back on track.

Pedometers make tracking easy, and many can keep accurate logs of your walks automatically. Most modern ones now even allow a display of trends and data. After all, it is best to make decisions with complete and full information. Using data, one can make the best informed changes to personal health; and track its impact over time.

“It is wrong to suppose that if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it – a costly myth.” – W. Edwards Deming

Have a look at this study, where women were placed into two groups. One group with a pedometer, and another group with a dummy sealed device. There was a daily increase of over 3,000 steps in the first group.

Another 26 studies found an average increase of 2491 steps for those who started using a pedometer.

So let's move on to the next section of choosing your pedometer!

Why no-screen trackers?

  • 📴 Simplify - Reduce distractions. Take back control within a modern lifestyle.
  • 🔋Battery life - Max juice out of a single charge. No display to power. Focus on tracking activity.
  • 🫧 Form factor - More real estate available. Packing more sensing electronics.

How to Choose the Right Pedometer

When considering the purchase of a pedometer, there are various criteria for selecting one:

  • Accuracy, design, battery life, and budget
  • Health features - across the board, these trackers below are also able to measure sleep quality, and oxygen levels on top of step counting. Additionally, most models report heartrate variability as a metric of stress or exercise intensity.
  • Smartphone or app syncing is also commonplace, with some having cloud-based sync ability direct to healthcare professionals. Most are dual-compatible with both iOS and Android phones.
  • Community - most modern trackers provide an app-based community, where you can share latest improvements and get ideas from other users

1. WHOOP 4.0 and WHOOP BODY

WHOOP 4.0

24/7, all-the-time and keep-on tracker.

WHOOP store

The WHOOP 4.0 stands out with its unique ‘always-on’ philosophy. I love the idea of keeping the tracker on to provide continuous data, eliminating downtime for charging.

Instead of a conventional charger, you slide a charging block over your wrist tracker. This unusual idea may sound peculiar initially, though I think it’s really clever. This allows monitoring to continue!

Key benefits

Science-backed - featured with experts like Dr.Andrew Huberman (Stanford University) & Dr.Hazel Wallace (thefoodmedic), plus numerous publications in the scientific literature (ie. press from University of Arizona)

  • Durable wristband and hardy, water-resistant, dustproof tracking device (IP68 rating or water depth of 10 meters, or roughly 32 feet for up to 2 hours). Take your device for a swim on the open ocean or while doing the dishes.
  • WHOOP AI coach - data-driven and AI-backed personalized recommendations for improving your health via the WHOOP app. Covers a wide range of areas including sleep quality, WHOOP’s own exercise quality metrics (“strain”), recovery and stress
  • Input various other metrics into the included journal (including coffee intake!)
  • 4-5 days of battery life

Pricing

✅ Pros

  • Unconventional charging block
  • More body placement options than most - the WHOOP shop also has options for more discreet placements including boxers, sports bras, hats, hoodies, swimwear, and running speed tights.
  • Free trial before buying - one month to test out
  • No initial device charge - all included in the membership fee!

❌ Cons

  • Free trial not available in all countries - UAE notably
  • Basic options like clips and lanyards are not available


Looking for a discreet and powerful tracker, then the WHOOP is for you. Test out this focused, distraction-free fitness tracker with their one-month free trial and get your health journey supercharged.

2. Ouraring Gen 3

Ouraring Gen 3 - Horizon

Elegant, sleek design with a personalizable custom finish.

Ouraring Store

This Finnish-based health tech company has designed one of the most aesthetically pleasing modern step counters. They have cleverly embedded a ton of tracking capabilities within a small ring, complete with a beautiful external finish (pun intended!).

Key benefits of Ouraring (v3 released in 2021)

  • Unique form factor 💍, with the lightest being only 4g. Choose from either a plateaued ring or a circular one.
  • World-class accuracy - touts itself to be on the same level as sleep labs
  • Aura’s readiness score - a personalized tracking based on daily sleep and bodily metrics
  • Up to 7 days of battery life, with a quick charging to full in 20 - 80 minutes

Pricing

$ 299 to $549 / $ 5.99 monthly membership (to get personalized scores in more than 7 areas besides the free Sleep, Readiness, and Activity scores)

ouraring pricing types
Ouraring pricing based on finishing type

✅ Pros

  • Classy finishing choices - ranging from rose gold to sleek black
  • Sleek UI within app

❌ Cons

  • Water resistant only, up to 100m depth - did not find any IP rating available
  • With a ring based device, make sure to determine a good finger size fit Not possible for placement elsewhere on the body

The Ouraring is one of the most pleasing and well-designed no-screen fitness trackers. If fashionable and unobstructive tracking is what you are after, look no further with this latest iteration of the Ouraring.

3. Ringconn Smart Ring

Ringconn Smart Ring

Functional ring tracker and super long-lasting battery case.

Get Smart Ring

A close contender to the Ouraring is the Ringconn. This relatively new entry to the space began gaining traction in 2022. Founded by a trio of experts, one with a medical background.

Key Benefits

  • Feather-light at only 3-5 grams
  • Titanium body for tough and durable use
  • Charging case brings lifespan to over 150 days on a single charge

Pricing

$279, No subscription fee for app

✅ Pros

  • Free sizing kit delivered to choose the right fit
  • IP68 dustproof and water-resistant certified
  • Handy portable charging case
  • Sleek app design with a minimalistic, and modern ‘material’ look
  • No subscription fee on the app

❌ Cons

  • Only 3 color customizations are available (Moonlit Silver, Midnight Black, or Pale Gold)
  • The coating is slightly prone to scratches compared with competitors, with a ring protector available

The Ringconn positions itself as a close contender to the Ouraring, with the added advantage of being competitively priced. The lack of subscription fees for using their app is a nice cost saver, so if you are looking for something functional that just does its job - look no further.

RingConn Smart Ring
What are the benefits of smart rings?

4. Bellabeat Ivy

Bellabeat Ivy

Feminine health tracker, by ladies for ladies. Designed around women's health.

Ivy Store

This entry is unique and targeted towards the fairer sex. Created by a duo of male and female founders, what sets this fitness tracker apart from the rest is the ability to incorporate menstrual cycles into the tracking.

The app gives tailored advice according to different phases of the menstrual cycle, which other contenders are not able to do. I also like how it helps women be in sync with indications on fertility levels. I understand that menstruation can be a tiring process for some, with heavy bleeding. So, tailoring activity levels to adjust to these times is a must.

Key Benefits

  • Developed for women specifically, with features surrounding women’s health
  • Fertility journal and pregnancy tracking - their premium journal provides educational insights for you to get your body in the best state throughout pregnancy
  • Battery life of 8 days (a whole day more than what other competitors are promising)
  • Quick charge time of 90 minutes only

Pricing

$249

✅ Pros

  • A feminine design that can be paired with fashion items
  • Female-specific features for health recommendations
  • Only 9g or 0.35 ounces
  • Various customization accessories, many strap options
  • 6-month free Coach program which goes further into skincare, ageing, etc

❌ Cons

  • Men might not be able to make the best use of this (though still great as a gift for partner)
  • Terminology can be confusing to navigate, with Coach vs Journal as separate products


5. Spire

Spire Health 'Tag'

Pedometer, and breathing monitor for patients with lung disease to be closely monitored by their treating doctor. 

SpireHealth patient info

This last device comes from Spire Health, the creator of the iconic Spire Stone. With the Spire Stone now discontinued (as of June 2020), this Spire ‘tag’ is the latest and only way to access their expertise.

The Spire is licensed for direct clinician use for ‘remote patient monitoring', with a focus on patients with chronic respiratory disease. This means they only provide business-to-business services, where a treating doctor orders the device for their patients.

I think it is worthwhile for the public to be aware of this device since it can be covered by Medicare under specific circumstances. This is a potentially affordable option for some.

Key Benefits

  • Direct monitoring with data feed linked to treating healthcare professionals
  • Additional expertise in breathing sensing

Pricing

✅ Pros

  • No charging required - lasting up to 12-18 months!
  • Direct tagging on clothes
  • Even throw it into the washer and dryer with your clothes

❌ Cons

  • Limited availability for direct consumer purchase


This is a useful option to consider if you are a patient with chronic respiratory disease, who does not have a fitness tracker yet. It can be handy to have another person monitor the subtle changes in health metrics.

Many patients find it reassuring to have someone overlooking their data, and I can see people getting the best adjustments made to their medications with this device.

Buyers Summary: Final Thoughts

The research on these products has been conducted by myself. I would like to try out these physically and update this page again. I'm looking into the WHOOP trial, personally to see how I can be part of it.

Ouraring
Value ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Battery ⭐⭐⭐

Ringconn
Value ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐
Battery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Ivy
Value ⭐⭐⭐ + 1/2
Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Battery ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Whoop
Value ⭐⭐⭐
Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐
Battery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Spire
Value ⭐⭐⭐
Aesthetics ⭐⭐⭐
Battery ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Take the first step forward with these new fuss-free step trackers. From this article, you also know of the modern features that all five offerings have - including sleep tracking and oxygen monitoring.

Keep track of your health with these most discreet fitness tracking devices. Without others even noticing, or even yourself knowing - feel healthier with fewer distractions. Get super-charged in other aspects of life with one of these fitness bands today!


FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions & Interesting Facts

Q: History or origins of pedometer

A: Pedometers have been a fascination earlier than expected. The first origins date back to the time of Leonardo Da Vinci in the 15th century. Over the years, there have been advancements in different countries - notably from the Swiss which incorporated a self-winding mechanism from watches. There was a large boom in popularity in Japan in the 1950s.

Q: Can you show me what an ancient pedometer/tracker looks like?

ancient pedometer in german museum from 1950s
Early mechanical pedometer from the Germanic National Museum courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Q: How do pedometers work?

A: Modern pedometers are usually made up of a combination of mechanical and electrical parts. In very simple terms, it detects the tilts in our hips when we walk via a tiny pendulum.

Explain that stuff has a nicely animated diagram that shows how these operate.

There is cutting-edge work being done on fully self-powered ‘piezoelectric’ devices. These harvest vibration energy from body movement to both power and detect the number of steps taken. In the future, as this tech gets miniaturized and more robust, we might see these devices being embedded in the soles of shoes. Current devices often need a small battery for partial power, though lasting for a long time - up to 1-1.5 years.

Q: What is a pedometer?

A: A pedometer is a device that counts the number of steps you take while walking or running. It is a useful tool for tracking your daily physical activity.

Q: What is the difference between a pedometer, a smartwatch, and a fitness tracker?

A: While both pedometers and fitness trackers can count your steps, fitness trackers typically offer more features and can track additional metrics such as calories burned, distance traveled, GPS tracking, and sleep patterns.

A smartwatch like the Apple Watch or Samsung Galaxy Watch offers additional functionality above regular fitness trackers - such as music streaming. This often comes at the expense of battery life (often requiring a charge in a day or two).

Fitbit used to have a no-screen option, called the Fitbit Flex 1 & 2. This has been discontinued.

Q: How accurate are pedometers?

A: The accuracy of pedometers can vary depending on the model and technology used. However, most modern pedometers, especially those with 3D tri-axis sensor technology, provide accurate step counts.

Q: Can I wear a pedometer around my neck?

A: Yes, some pedometers come with a removable clip that allows you to wear them around your neck. However, most people prefer to wear pedometers on their waist or securely attached to their clothing.

Q: Can a pedometer track my calories burned?

A: Yes, many pedometers have the ability to estimate the number of calories burned based on your step count and other factors such as your weight and exercise time.

Q: Will a pedometer help me achieve my fitness goals?

A: Yes, a pedometer can be a valuable tool to help you stay motivated and track your progress toward your fitness goals. By knowing how many steps you take each day, you can make adjustments to increase your activity level and improve your overall health.

Q: Can a pedometer help me lose weight?

A: Yes, using a pedometer as an activity tracker for your steps and calories burned can be an effective tool for weight loss. By setting a daily step goal and monitoring your progress, you can stay motivated and make adjustments to your activity level and calorie intake.


References

de Fazio, Roberto et al. “Development of a Self-Powered Piezo-Resistive Smart Insole Equipped with Low-Power BLE Connectivity for Remote Gait Monitoring.” Sensors (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 21,13 4539. 1 Jul. 2021. https://doi:10.3390/s21134539

Takahashi, Paul Y et al. “Effect of pedometer use and goal setting on walking and functional status in overweight adults with multimorbidity: a crossover clinical trial.” Clinical interventions in aging vol. 11 1099-106. 1 Sep. 2016. https://doi:10.2147/CIA.S107626

Pal, S., Cheng, C., Egger, G. et al. Using pedometers to increase physical activity in overweight and obese women: a pilot study. BMC Public Health 9, 309 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2458-9-309

David Tang