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Often when walking, I count my steps. I count steps in order to later determine the halfway mark in daily routines, and I count steps in order to encourage myself in strenuous walking situations. It’s satisfying. My step count grows as I see the remaining distance diminish.

I was counting steps before it became the rage, and tied into the notion one should move a certain amount of distance each day for optimum health.

As a general goal, the Mayo Clinic recommends thirty minutes of movement a day, or roughly 10,000 steps. These “steps” can be accomplished with activities such as brisk walking, swimming, or mowing the lawn.

The New York Times published a study in 2010 which suggests Americans take many less steps a day compared to other countries. 5,117 steps is typical for the average American, while the Swiss clock closer to goal.

But how does The New York Times know? Enter the digital pedometer.

jawbone-up-band

Meet my new Up band, Jawbone’s latest entry into the digital health monitor market.

Worn around the wrist, it partners with an iOS app to track the wearer’s activity in two different states: when awake, and while sleeping.

When awake, the band monitors activity of every variety through a technology I don’t fully understand because I’m too busy trying to meet my daily Step goal.

While in sleep mode, the Up band monitors deep sleep versus light sleep and keeps track of middle of the night wakefulness.

The Up application details your active and inactive data in exciting bar graphics, meaning I am less likely to go to the bar and more likely to frequent the gym. You can customize your profile with meaningful data such as weight and height, and you can set goals. You can also calibrate your band to make sure it’s not assigning too much credit to an activity such as climbing stairs (which I had initially programmed along the lines of Scaling The Himalayas.)

There’s even a section for monitoring food and drink intake for the day, which syncs to an enormous database of nutritional information.

And this is really, really exciting because now you gain proof that the hour you just passed on the treadmill nearly cancels out the caloric intake of one glass of water!

But the coolest thing about my bracelet – and the reason I’m touting its virtues in my very popular Teen Beat column – is the social feature. The Up App allows you to add friends who share their Up information for the purpose of monitoring each other’s activity which isn’t the least bit competitive.

Up friends can send each other messages of encouragement such as, “Too bad you experienced only three hours of deep sleep while I was setting my alarm early to swim Puget’s Sound.”

And speaking of setting alarms, the Up band has a built-in alarm clock that will wake you in a gentle buzzing manner as close to your light sleep state as possible. The alarm feature will also, when programmed, serve you gentle reminders throughout the day that it’s time to turn off Girls and experience your various ligaments and tendons.

I’ve had my band for one month, along with two of my coworkers, and I can see a marked improvement in my activity patterns. So what if I’m trying to win for Best Up User! I love the fact there are other people able to hold me accountable to my goals, and cheer me on, even if my cheering section posts messages on my Up band such as, “I know those steps you just took were to the convenience store for coffee ice cream.”

These things retail for approximately $130, which is a lot less than most gym memberships and the spandex to go with it.

Consider one for your teenager! This is the best kind of peer pressure.

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