Striiv Pedometer to Combat Obesity, Heart Disease, Diabetes

PHOTO: The Striiv fits in a pocket or on a key chain, and counts the number of steps you take.
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Are you sitting down? Me too. And that, according to the makers of the Striiv, is the problem.

We spend our days trapped at computers or tapping at our handhelds, fidgeting through meetings or driving the kids around -- everything except getting the exercise that doctors say would help protect against obesity heart disease, diabetes, and, possibly, certain cancers.

But enough preaching; we need help instead. Enter the Striiv, a little gizmo about the size of one of those wireless key fobs to start your car. They say it'll help get you out of the car and onto your feet.

At heart, the Striiv is a pedometer -- a little thing you slip in your pocket or clip to your belt to count the number of steps you take. But for $99, it's equipped with a touch screen and various bells and whistles to encourage you to be more active.

"When most of us think about 'fitness' today, we think of taking time out of our busy schedules to go to the gym," Striiv Inc. says in its promotional material. "The reality is, between work and family, we don't have time anymore."

I took some time and went running. When I was done I pulled the Striiv out of my pocket. The screen informed me in bold numbers that I had taken 3,812 steps -- and told me I had won a symbolic gold cup for reaching a personal best. The screen invited me to tap on it again to find that I'd won a second "award" -- 2,500 of those steps were enough to burn off the calories from one serving of French fries.

Five thousand steps, the Striiv screen tells you, will "burn a banquet." Six thousand will "burn a sundae."

The little fob, which comes with attachments so it can clip to a belt or strap, or be added to a key chain, seems to detect with reasonable accuracy whether you were walking or running or climbing stairs. (It did, though, credit me with a few hundred steps for bouncing through potholes in my car.) There are various games loaded inside the Striiv too; the more active you are, the more you get to play.

And there are other incentives. Take enough steps and some money (not yours, says the company) will be donated to preserve a patch of rain forest in Tanzania for a year, or provide clean drinking water to a child in a developing country, or get vaccines to those in need. The Striiv, connected to your computer through a mini-USB port (no wireless in this version), becomes sort of a mini-walkathon.

Will the Striiv prod you to get off your duff and start walking? Or will you be discouraged that you're stuck at your desk? Is it the perfect gift for the couch potato in your life? Or will the its novelty wear off in a few weeks? Its greatest strength -- and weakness -- is how you react to it.

Ideally, say doctors, you ought to be taking 10,000 steps per day. Gotta go.

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