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Keywords:

  • pedometers;
  • social construction of technology;
  • domestication of technology;
  • sociability;
  • fitness walking

Abstract

Based on five months of participant observation and interviews with members of a hospital-sponsored walking club, I explore the rejection of pedometer technology among older adult walkers. Health researchers praise pedometers as a useful tool for measuring walking activity, setting fitness goals, and charting progress towards goals. Older adult walkers, however, viewed pedometers and the monitoring they enable as anathema to walking group norms that stress sociability. I assess the differential construction of pedometers by fitness researchers, group leaders, and walkers themselves. While fitness researchers construct pedometer technology as a motivator for exercise adherence, walkers believed pedometers would create competition and hierarchy that might destroy group camaraderie. In contrast to biomedical models of health and wellness, which focus predominantly on exercise outputs like step counts, these findings suggest that sociability is an important component of health maintenance leisure activities for older adult walkers.