How to walk 10000 steps a day

How to walk 10000 steps a day

Despite the recommendations of pedometers everywhere, there’s nothing scientific to the goal of walking 10,000 steps a day, for health or for weight loss .

That magic number is an arbitrary one that originated as an advertising campaign decades ago.

While walking is great for your health, research suggests 7,000 to 8,000 steps might be a better goal.

10,000 steps a day started as a marketing slogan

The idea that walking 10,000 steps is optimal came from a catchy ad in Japanese, according to Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard paleoanthropologist who has studied the evolution of exercise.

Lieberman wrote in his recent book, “Exercised,” that the Manpo-kei (translated as 10,000-step meter) was invented in the 1960s by the Japanese company Yamasa Tokei — the producer of the first commercial pedometer — which chose the name because it sounded good.

The company sold its product, and the concept became popularized all over the world as a metric for health.

Walking is great for your health, but you don’t need to hit a certain target to see benefits

Lieberman told Insider there were some perks to getting 10,000 steps a day.

It’s a convenient number for people to remember, walking that much (about 5 miles a day) is linked to health benefits, and walking is an accessible activity for many.

“We all have deep fundamental instincts to avoid unnecessary activity, so we need those nudges to help people get started,” Lieberman said.

But it’s not necessary hit 10,000 steps a day, research shows, and the health perks of walking may be on a spectrum.

A 2019 study on older women found that those who walked 4,400 steps a day had lower mortality rates over four years of follow-up than those who walked the least (about 2,700 steps a day or fewer).

But the reduction in risk appeared to max out at about 7,500 steps a day, and researchers found no additional benefits to walking 10,000 or more daily steps.

Similarly, a 2020 study found that taking 8,000 to 12,000 steps a day was linked to lower risk of dying of any cause during the study, compared with 4,000 steps a day.

Together, these studies suggest that moving more can benefit your health, whether or not you hit the magic number.

Some evidence suggests walking doesn’t lead to significant weight loss long term

There’s some evidence that people who walk 10,000 steps a day are more likely to lose weight than those who walk just 3,500 steps daily. It seems to make intuitive sense that adding a few extra miles to your routine would help, thanks to the extra calories you’re burning.

But new research suggests that may not be the case.

Herman Pontzer, an evolutionary biologist, collected data showing that traditional hunter-gatherers, who walk miles each day, burn nearly the same number of calories as sedentary Americans.

His theory to explain this is that, over time, the body compensates for extra energy you burn through exercise by budgeting more carefully or increasing your hunger signals so you eat more to make up for it.

While this theory is somewhat controversial and requires more research, it suggests the relationship between walking and weight loss isn’t as straightforward as people may think. So walking 10,000 steps a day isn’t a hard and fast rule for shedding pounds any more than it’s a prescription for better health.

If you are looking to lose weight, there’s no harm in walking, but changing your diet is key — and evidence suggests combining those measures leads to the best results.

How to walk 10000 steps a day

Unique ways to get to 10,000 steps a day. Great tips for finding ways to walk more when you can’t leave the house. Be productive and exercise at same time.

How to walk 10000 steps a day

Are you trying to improve your health by moving more? One goal that many people have set for themselves is to walk 10,000 steps a day.

Studies have shown that 10,000 steps is the amount needed for good health and weight loss.

How to walk 10000 steps a day

Everyone’s body is different, but setting a step goal is a good way to quantify your activity. When you are counting steps, you can track it and make changes as needed.

How to Get Started – Tracking Your Steps

There are all kinds of great pedometers and fitness trackers on the market.

My favorite is the Fitbit. It counts my steps, monitors my heart rate, tells me how many times I’ve climbed a flight of stairs each day, and tracks my sleep.

It also doubles as a watch, which is great for me because I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get used to using my mobile phone as my primary watch.

How to walk 10000 steps a day

UPDATE: I still love FitBits, but after mine broke, I found a less expensive alternative.

It counts steps, tells time, etc. just like a FitBit. The user interface isn’t quite as nice, but considering the huge price difference, I think this watch is a better value for the money.

Once you get a pedometer to track your steps, you’ll want to wear it a few days to see how many steps you naturally take during your regular daily routine.

After three or four days of wearing your monitor, you should be able to see an average amount of steps taken each day.

After consulting with your doctor, it’s time to build your fitness by adding in more steps.

When I started using my Fitbit, I set my goal at 1,000 steps before my average.

Once I did that for about a week, then I increased it by another 1,000 steps.

I kept increasing each week until I got to 10,000 steps a day.

For me, the tough part was figuring out how to get in more steps.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, and we live in a typically rainy area.

Going outside for a walk just wasn’t always in the cards for me.

Here’s a list of things I did to get my steps up to my weekly goals:

If you don’t walk much, reaching 10,000 steps can seem like a lot. But, as this post shows, it doesn’t have to be an insurmountable task. There are simple ways you can increase your steps to improve your heart health and muscle strength.

You’ve probably heard that we should walk 10,000 steps a day. Depending on the length of your stride, that’s about 5 miles a day. It’s thought that walking 10,000 steps a day may lower blood pressure, improve blood glucose levels, and boost moods.

Aiming for 10,000 steps a day can also help you achieve the current recommended activity target, which is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week.

Yet many of us aren’t achieving 10,000 steps a day. According to the NHS, the average Brit walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps a day.

start slowly

If you’re not used to exercising, 10,000 steps a day may sound unachievable.

So start small instead, with something like 4,000 steps a day, then add an extra 1,000 steps a week until you reach 10,000.

The more you walk, the easier you’ll find it and the more you’ll be able to push yourself.

You could start by going for a five-minute walk around the block, then move up to a circuit around your local park, then a longer walk down a country path, or along a river or canal.

Keep a record of where you’ve walked and how long for, as this will mean you can track your progress.

You can do this using a smartwatch, or even just the step counter on your phone. Some can even help you track things like your stride length, heart rate, and walking asymmetry.

So long as you walk briskly, it will count towards your 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week.

how to get more steps into your day

If you’re a busy professional, sometimes finding just five minutes to exercise sounds like a challenge.

Try counting how many steps different activities take. Just going to a different office building, or walking around the block, could be as many as 100 steps. If you did that three times a day, you’d be 300 steps closer to your goal.

If you’re at home, you could:

  • walk on the spot, or around the house, while waiting for the kettle to boil
  • use a toilet in another part of the house
  • work upstairs so that you have to go downstairs to get food and drinks
  • go for a lunchtime walk
  • use the time you would’ve spent on your commute to walk around your local area
  • look into a service like BorrowMyDoggy, where you can walk other people’s dogs if you don’t have your own

If you’re in an office, you could:

  • use a kitchen on another floor
  • if you need to talk to someone, visit them in person instead of calling or emailing
  • go for a lunchtime walk
  • get off public transport a stop early, or park farther away

It can also help to set a reminder on one of your devices to get you to move away from your desk. Many smartwatches now send hourly reminders to encourage you to stand up every hour.

what could 10,000 steps look like?

Knowing the rough number of steps you take per minute doing everyday activities can help you calculate what you need to do to reach 10,000 every day.

Without considering the number of steps you may take by sitting less and taking regular moving breaks, here's a simple example that comes to 9,600 steps – just 400 steps short of your goal:

  • activity | steps
  • walking to work (15 minutes) 1,500 steps
  • lunchtime walk (30 minutes) 3,000 steps
  • walking home (15 minutes) 1,500 steps
  • grocery shopping (10 minutes) 600 steps
  • washing your car (20 minutes) 1,500 steps
  • vacuuming the house (20 minutes) 1,500 steps

activities to help you reach 10,000 steps

Here’s a quick guide of different activities and the number of (approximate) steps you could achieve per minute by doing them, including non-walking activities:

  • activity | average steps per minute
  • walking (moderate pace) 100
  • walking (fast pace) 130
  • moderate gardening (e.g. weeding) 73
  • heavy gardening (e.g. digging) 155
  • mowing the lawn / raking 135
  • housework (vacuuming) 90
  • housework (mopping) 85
  • housework (scrubbing the floor) 140
  • housework (window cleaning) 75
  • food shopping 60
  • dancing (slow) 55
  • dancing (fast) 175
  • washing the car 75
  • waxing the car 100
  • cycling (5mph) 55
  • cycling (10mph) 93
  • cycling (15mph) 160
  • cycling (20mph) 200
  • bowling 55
  • golfing (walking, no cart) 100
  • playing tennis (singles) 160
  • playing tennis (doubles) 110
  • playing ping pong 90
  • playing football (casual) 207
  • swimming (front crawl, 1mph) 91
  • swimming (front crawl, 2mph) 156
  • zumba 152

join a walking group (in the UK)

If you struggle to stay motivated, why not join a walking group?

The ones listed below are UK-only, so be sure to check your local area for other options.

The Walking for Health programme, run jointly by Ramblers and Macmillan Cancer Support, offers over 3,000 free short walks around the country each week. Visit the website to search for walks in your area.

Another way to find organised walking events is to visit the Walk4Life website, where you can also find someone to walk with if you prefer not to join a group. Local authorities run many of the walking events. Just click on 'find an event' to find one in your area.

Other organisations you can join that include walking groups include the British Walking Federation, Metropolitan Walkers (for people in their 20s and 30s who live in London and the South East) and – for when you're ready to walk further and for longer – the Long Distance Walkers Association.

If you're new to exercise or have a pre-existing medical condition, check with your doctor before getting started.

The challenge for this column has been the hardest one so far: walk 10,000 steps a day.

According to my phone, on an average day this year I walked only 2,398 steps, which is less than my 2,579 step average last year.

I've written about the minimum amount of exercise we need to do, so you'd think I would be doing, well, exactly that.

But there's a difference between knowing and doing, and during the pandemic I've been more sedentary than ever.

So to prepare for this challenge, I used money that pre-COVID would've been spent on yoga lessons, and bought a treadmill.

It's not quite the same as Matt Damon buying a zoo, but it's still a pretty big deal.

I figured it would mean no excuses for not walking on rainy days, or late at night after work…

Plus, I've found being outside to be a huge mental drain, with me on alert for racist comments about COVID and mask-wearing since experiencing this a few months ago.

This hasn't helped my already low motivation to exercise. It was time to take action, and aiming to walk 10,000 steps — an arbitrary number, really ("10,000 steps" is the name of a Japanese pedometer) — was a good place to start.


I kept procrastinating my walk so it was 9pm by the time I got on the treadmill.

As I got into the rhythm of walking, the treadmill made funny sounds in response to each step.

It seemed to be wheezing two Chinese words, one for each step: yong yan, yong yan, yong yan. It means forever.

Twelve minutes on the treadmill and I had only walked 1,287 steps.

At this rate, it would take me a total of 93 minutes to walk 10,000 steps. Which meant I'd still be walking at 10:30pm. Not a good start.

Total steps: 5,792

Feelings: Experienced a high from walking more than I had for many months.

Exercising during a lockdown

With gyms and pools closed, some of us are struggling to stay fit. Here's how to make sure you're getting enough exercise.


This morning, I realised instead of walking 10,000 steps in one go, I could break it up into walking five times a day, for 20 minutes each time.

So I did 20 minutes before work while watching an American sitcom I'd seen before.

I reached the end of the work day at 6pm with four lots of 20-minute walks to complete. I put my shoes on and hopped on the treadmill, accompanied by more American sitcom for company.

At the 20-minute mark, I realised I wasn't tired, and the episode was still playing. What if…I kept walking?

And so I did. I kept going and finished the 40 minutes.

It made me realise that I don't hate walking — I just like it a lot more if there's something nice at the end of the walk, like being able to see a friend, or reaching an exciting destination… like a bookstore.

Total steps: 7,239

Feelings: Huge sense of achievement despite not reaching 10,000 steps. I'd done something before work and after work, despite it being the last thing I wanted to do.

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It was a super busy work day, and even though I did break for lunch to eat, I couldn't spare the time to walk.

After work: my brain is so fried, all I can do is eat dinner and sit on the couch. Maybe I can do 20,000 steps tomorrow?

Total steps: 0

Feelings: Guilt.


I try to figure out how long I'd need to walk today to do 20,000 steps.

It's three hours and 20 minutes. That's longer than the movie Titanic (my standard way to measure time that exceeds three hours)!

Luckily, I have the day off. I decide to walk for 20 minutes, take a 10-minute break, and repeat until I reach my target.

But after doing it five times (finally reaching 10,000 steps!), my feet get sore and I have to admit there's no way I'm walking for three hours today.

Instead, I focus on the achievement of actually reaching 10,000 steps, and spend the rest of the day off my feet.

Total steps: 10,121

Feelings: Sore in the feet, proud in the heart.

Going to bed earlier

Comedian Jennifer Wong was looking forward to heading to bed earlier, only it was a lot harder than expected.


I have another day off, and figure that my chances of making it to 10,000 steps today will increase if I give each 20-minute session a sense of novelty.

I choose five albums to listen to, and before I know it, I'm singing along to TLC and drowning out the treadmill's wheezing.

Total steps: 10,008

Feelings: My legs feel alive and useful in a way they haven't in a long time. But I am also left wondering — how do I fit in 10,000 steps on days I have to work?


This morning I am feeling very heavy and low. "But I've been exercising! Aren't I supposed to feel… better?"

I drag myself to my desk, get through the day, and drag myself back to bed. It's been one of those days, but at least I've been able to work, despite the strong feelings of depression.

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Total steps: 0

Feelings: Low. I have to remind myself of something I've heard many times over the years: "You're not a robot. If you were, you would just continue to improve every day without dips."


I have all day to do one hour and 40 minutes of walking.

I decide to do it before I have a chance to talk myself out of it, and figure that the sense of novelty today will come from three albums and two TV shows.

Total steps: 10,022

Feelings: Relief that today is a better day.

Is this a habit to hang on to?

Of all the things I've tried for this column — drinking eight glasses of water a day, getting up an hour earlier every day, dragon boat racing — walking 10,000 step is something I will now make an extra effort to do every day.

After all, this is the body I have for yong yan, and I need to look after it.

Even then, this moderate exercise just meets the minimum recommended amount of weekly exercise, and is not really 'vigorous activity'. But hey: one step at a time.