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

10,000 steps a day is a very popular step goal, but how many miles are 10,000 steps and why do so many use it as their daily step goal? While you don’t strictly need 10,000 steps to get all of the health benefits of walking, walking 10k steps per day will ensure you meet and even exceed your recommended daily activity goals. To see if 10,000 steps is right for you, you should know why it’s such a widely recommended goal and whether it’s right for you.

We’ll cover how many miles (or km) you’ll need for 10,000 steps, how long it could take, and the calories you’ll burn. You’ll also get some simple tips to actually make that 10,000 step goal a reality.

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How many steps are in a mile?

10k steps blackboard concept
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It usually takes a little over 2,000 steps to walk a mile – from 2,000 to 2,400 depending on your height and stride length. Adding an extra 2,000 steps or 1 mile at a time is easier than you might think. For a comprehensive guide on how many steps there are in a mile, check out our steps per mile guide.

How many miles is 10,000 steps?

Miles per 10,000 steps by height

Here are a few estimates of 10,000 steps in miles. For more info on all of these numbers, again please check our steps per mile guide.

  • 5’4″   – 4.25 miles (6.84 km) (2,357 steps/mile)
  • 5’6″   – 4.37 miles (7.03 km) (2,286 steps/mile)
  • 5’8″   – 4.51 miles (7.26 km) (2,218 steps/mile)
  • 5’10” – 4.64 miles (7.48 km) (2,155 steps/mile)
  • 6’0″   – 4.77 miles (7.68 km) (2,095 steps/mile)

Taller people tend to have longer legs, longer strides and cover more distance in each step. That means that they have fewer steps per mile, as each step takes them further. If you’re taller (or have a very long stride), you’ll need to walk further to get that 10k steps. Fortunately, steps per mile doesn’t vary TOO much based on height.

Miles per 10,000 steps by walking speed

Steps per mile also varies by speed. The faster you walk, the longer your strides become and the fewer strides you take per mile. Here’s speed data for 2 sample individuals.

5’9″ Male (175 cm)

  • 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) – 4.03 miles (6.49 km) (2,482 steps/mile)
  • 3.0 mph (4.8 km/h) – 4.49 miles (7.23 km) (2,226 steps/mile)
  • 3.5 mph (5.6 km/h) – 4.89 miles (7.87 km) (2,043 steps/mile)

5’4″ Female (163 cm)

  • 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) – 3.87 miles (6.23 km) (2,582 steps/mile)
  • 3.0 mph (4.8 km/h) – 4.30 miles (6.92 km) (2,326 steps/mile)
  • 3.5 mph (5.6 km/h) – 4.67 miles (7.52 km) (2,143 steps/mile)

The faster you walk, the more miles that you’ll cover in 10,000 steps. That doesn’t mean you should walk slower to hit your goal, however, as you’ll cover those extra miles faster by walking faster, plus you’ll burn more calories the faster you 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.

View from Central Park in New York city
Javen / Shutterstock

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.

Woman doing some intense walking with friends
Lopolo / Shutterstock

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.

If you have a particularly active job, you may get 10,000 steps (or more) naturally throughout the day. More and more people work at sedentary desk jobs, which may require a bit more work. If you do work at a desk job, try getting up and moving for 2-5 minutes every hour. These short walking breaks not only help to undo health damage from prolonged sitting, but they can get you some small groups of steps that really add up.

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.

Your actual calorie burn depends on several factors including your weight, gender, and walking speed.

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

Person burning calories concept
andrey_l / Shutterstock

Many people walk to lose weight, maintain the weight they’re at or reduce some fat on their body. 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 around 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.

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 4,000-5,000 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!

It’s important to note that both setting a goal to walk 10,000 steps or walk 30-60 minutes a day are both effective ways to get more active. They both achieve the same thing in the end, and aiming for 10,000 steps is a great way to ensure you hit that 150 or 300 minute per week walking goal.

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.

Quick tips to work up to walking 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. Even if 10,000 steps is too much walking for you right now, you can work your way up to a higher step goal (even 10,000) with the right strategy and some persistence. These tips can help you get more steps and greater health benefits.

Walk with music

Music on phone app choices
StaceStock / Shutterstock

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. Here are 10 podcast ideas to get you started!

Take your dog with you

Couple walking dog in hilly terrain
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

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

Happey women walking together in park
Riccardo Piccinini / Shutterstock

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
Adam Melnyk / Shutterstock

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
bbernard / Shutterstock

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
Tetiana Maslovska / Shutterstock

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
Lucky Business / Shutterstock

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. Choose water over high calorie sports drinks when possible.

Have snacks on hand

healthy fruit and nut mix
Hannah Green Photography / Shutterstock

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.

Walk (almost) every day

Keeping up a consistent walking routine helps build endurance and creates a habit that’s easy to follow through on. Rest days are important, and you should schedule them into your calendar. You’ll have better results walking every day (or almost every day) than you will if you stay sedentary for several days and then try to cram in extra steps on the weekend (or over a short period).

What’s most important?

The most important thing is getting out there and walking! The best way to hit and maintain a 10,000 step goal is using Pacer to track your steps over time. See how many steps you normally take, and increase your steps gradually until you’re at 10,000. If you’re stuck on a plateau and keep missing your steps, try keeping a journal and logging reasons why you think you’ve missed your step goal. Over time, 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.

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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.

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