Why You Should Walk 10,000 Steps a Day for Health

10,000 steps a day is a very popular step goal, but what do 10,000 steps really look like? It’s good to know why 10,000 steps as a goal is so widely recommended, whether you have this goal or not. How many steps are in a mile (or km)? How long does it take to get 10,000 steps? What great health benefits can you derive from this goal?

10k steps blackboard concept

We have your answers, as well as some quick tips that will make walking 10,000 steps a day an attainable goal. You can get your steps whether you’re a casual walker or an experienced walker.

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How many steps in a mile?

It takes about 2,000 steps to walk a mile. Taller people tend to take bigger strides, which means they walk farther in fewer steps.

How many miles are in 10,000 steps? 

It turns out that 10,000 steps are about 5 miles (8km). Again, taller people would walk farther with 10,000 steps and shorter people would not walk as far. That doesn’t mean you need to adjust your step goals! Getting more steps is great, regardless of how far you actually need to walk.

What do 10,000 steps look like in real terms?

While 10,000 steps or 5 miles may sound like a lot, it’s a goal that many people hit every day. A single loop around Central Park in New York City is about 6 miles, which would get you 10,000 steps.

central park in new york city

In practice, you won’t need to take a dedicated 5-mile walk to get your 10,000 steps! Just going about your daily life means you’ll get a fair amount of steps. The average American gets between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day. You may get more or less depending on your job and activity level, but this means that you may only need to get an extra 5,000 steps (2.5 miles/4 km) or 3,000 steps (1.5 miles/2.4 km) to hit that 10k step goal.

How long does it take to walk 10,000 steps?

Walking at a moderate intensity (brisk walking), it will take you about 100 minutes to reach 10,000 steps. That’s about an hour and 40 minutes. A brisk pace is about 3 mph (5kph). This gets you a mile in 20 minutes or a kilometer in 12 minutes.

Couple doing an intense walk

As you’ll have other steps from your daily life, in practice you won’t need to take that much time every day to hit your 10k step goal. You can walk 2.5 miles (4km) to get 5,000 more steps in about 50 minutes, or 1.5 miles (2.4km) to get another 3,000 steps in 30 minutes. That may be enough to get you to your step goal.

You don’t need to get all of these steps in one big block. Consider splitting your walking time into smaller chunks, or getting a few steps here and there in creative ways.  Another great tip is to wake up a bit earlier and get some steps in before you start the day!

How many calories do 10,000 steps burn?

Walking 10,000 steps burns about 500 calories a day. That translates to 3,500 calories a week. In comparison, a huge-sized blended coffee beverage is about 500 calories, so keep in mind that you can easily eat (or drink) almost 2 hours worth of walking in a minute.

How can walking 10,000 steps help you lose weight?

3,500 calories burned is about a pound of fat. That means that burning 3,500 calories more than you consume will help you lose a pound of body fat. Remember that in order to actually lose the weight, you’ll have to burn 3,500 more calories than you consume. This means that offsetting those calories burned by taking in additional calories can derail your weight loss goals.

Burn Calories written on paper concept

You can definitely walk for weight loss, as part of an overall healthy lifestyle. Getting active has a ton of other health benefits, so get out there and walk!

Why 10,000 steps?

Why is 10,000 steps is an important fitness goal in the first place? Walking is a form of exercise that anyone can access and that doesn’t require equipment or a gym membership. If you walk regularly, you can reduce your chances of being susceptible to the following health conditions:

The CDC recommends 300 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity for maximum health benefits for adults. That’s about 42 minutes per day. You can still get great health benefits by walking 150 minutes per week, or about 21 minutes per day.

42 minutes per day is about 2 miles, or a little over 4,000 steps. If you’re square in the range of the average American’s daily step count (5,000 – 7,000 steps), that 4,000 steps of brisk walking will take you to around 10,000 steps per day!

That’s why in addition to being an inspirational round number, 10,000 steps actually is an important step goal to get maximum health benefits.

Tips so that you can successfully walk 10,000 steps daily

Here’s the part where you take action. Now that you understand what to expect from walking 10,000 steps and why it’s important, here are some helpful tips that will make 10,000 steps achievable. 10,000 steps is a more achievable goal than it may seem! Even if it’s a bit high for you now, these tips can help you get more steps and greater health benefits.

Walk with music

Music on phone app choices

Try creating a fun, upbeat playlist that you can walk along to or a relaxing, calm playlist that suits the atmosphere. Keeping walking fun and fresh helps you walk longer, which will get you more steps. You can also try podcasts and audiobooks!

Take your dog with you

Couple walking dog in hilly terrain

When you’re walking your dog, you’re achieving two things at once: your dog is getting their needs met and so are you! Big or active dogs can especially encourage you to keep up the pace and get your daily steps in.

Bring a friend

Women walking in the parkWomen walking together in the park

If you don’t have a dog, you can certainly bring a buddy along with you. Taking a friend on your walks can make you both healthier and you can help each other with accountability. Walking can be fun for the whole family as well, which can get everyone active and healthy!

Wear comfortable shoes

Walking shoes and socksComfortable walking shoes and socks

Wear comfortable, supportive shoes (and socks) to walk longer and prevent injury. Walking shoes are not the same as running shoes, so look for actual walking shoes for the most comfortable walks.

Prepare for the elements

woman walking in rain with umbrella

While you may plan on walking year-round, the weather can make this more difficult. Be prepared for snow and rain. This may mean wearing slip-resistant shoes, layering to protect from the cold and wearing a hat and gloves. You can also be creative and find indoor walking locations to get steps regardless of the conditions outside.

Walk instead of taking public transportation or driving

man in subway station

If you have the time and the distance is right, try walking instead of taking the bus a few stops or cut through the park instead of hopping on the subway. Even a 5-minute walk will get you more active, and those steps will add up at the end of the day.

Stay hydrated

Winter walkers drinking a water bottle

If you’re feeling low on energy during your walks, you may be getting dehydrated. Using a reusable water bottle, which you can easily refill at a water fountain, is a great way to save money and save the environment.

Have snacks on hand

healthy fruit and nut mix

Some great snacks for an energy boost include nuts, dried meats, bananas, apples, berries and energy bars. Think protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs that are easy to pack and take with you. Here are some great healthy walking snack ideas.

What’s most important?

The most important thing is getting out there and walking! Track your steps with Pacer over time to see how often you hit that 10,000 step goal. If you miss your goal for a day, try to log down somewhere why you think you didn’t make it that day. You’ll come up with a list of obstacles to overcome to hit your step goals.

Even if you can’t get 10,000 steps right now, walking more is almost always better for your health! Keep at it, stay active and get even healthier this year.

If you haven’t downloaded the Pacer app yet, download Pacer for free (on mobile)! You can also check out our website (mobile or desktop) or follow our blog for more great walking and healthy lifestyle tips.

42 thoughts on “Why You Should Walk 10,000 Steps a Day for Health

  1. Well done. Thought you’d like to see how I tell this while avoiding 10,000 steps as a goal for everyone.

    Years ago, Paul Dudley White, founder of the American Heart Association advised Americans to: “Walk your dog every day whether you have a dog or not.” A safe – easy – and inexpensive – approach to good health you can enjoy with family or friends.

    So, how can you know whether you’re on the path to good health. A clever tool called a pedometer can help.

    The idea for a step counter came from Leonardo da Vinci and Thomas Jefferson brought the first pedometer to the United States in the late 1700s. And today, there are many ways to track your steps – you can even track your steps on your cell phone.

    Early on – Japanese scientists recommended 10,000 steps per day for optimal health. But, let’s be realistic. 10,000 steps will take you about 2 hours.

    For those not ready or willing to spend an extra 2 hours a day, consider starting with 6,000 steps which is about 3 miles and will take about an hour.

    Simple steps, don’t you think, toward moving away from Heart Disease, Type 2 and Pre-Diabetes and High Blood Pressure/Stroke..

    Peter Townsley
    Corporate Health Services of America

    Like

    1. Thanks for the long and thoughtful comment, Peter! We agree that it’s good to start with a smaller step goal, and then work up to 10,000 or more steps if people are able. 10,000 steps is a popular goal, so we wanted to put in numbers just what it looks like.

      One important caveat: Walking 10,000 steps in one go would take around 2 hours, but most people get several thousand steps already in their regular daily routine. Depending on your job and activity level, you may only need an extra 5k-3k steps or under an hour. With some lifestyle changes that encourage walking (like parking a bit further away, taking walking breaks etc), you can low this number even more without having to go for a single, long distance walk.

      Thanks again for the comment, and thanks for using Pacer!

      Like

  2. Love the ideas about walking, been a jogger and then walker, for the most part of my life. At 76, I still enjoy it, has great benefits. Would not use a refillable water bottle though, not necessary and germs are a factor.

    Like

    1. Great to hear you’re still walking strong! If you’re worried about germs, you can always get a reusable bottle and fill it at home. If it’s easier for you to use disposable, do what you have to do to get active!

      Thanks for the feedback. Happy walking!

      Like

  3. What is a healthy step goal for someone trying to slow the progression of lung disease. I am currently getting between 2500 and 3500 steps in a day, and trying to get up to at least 4000.

    Like

    1. Sorry to hear about that, but we hope you’re doing better! For people with serious health conditions like yours, it’s best to talk with your doctor about how much activity you should be doing. Your doctor can give you suggestions based on time or step counts, and can also ensure that you’re not overdoing exercise or causing issues with any medication you may be taking.

      Hope your situation improves, and thanks for using Pacer!

      Like

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