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Here's How Many Steps You Should Be Taking A Day

How many steps should you be taking every day? 5,000? 10,000? Learn about the health benefits of walking, and see how many steps the professionals recommend you should aim for.

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Walking is one of the greatest and easiest ways to take your health back. Not only is it something you can do a leisurely pace, but it doesn’t require any special training to get started. What’s even better is you can get outside and walk with friends, it’s the perfect social work out. Unfortunately, most of us don’t get as many steps in as we should, but just how many steps should you take each day?

The Health Benefits of Walking

First, let’s take a look at some of the health benefits of walking.

Walking is one of the most health-conscious forms of exercise which includes benefits like weight maintenance, improving cardiovascular health, lowering blood pressure, and even assisting with mood and hand-eye coordination. Walking is great because it is a low-impact workout. Nearly anyone can get up off the couch and walk around the block and reap the health benefits. No matter your coordination, level of endurance or skill, you can glean some of the benefits of walking. Walking can even save you money on your health insurance.

How Many Steps Should You Take a Day?

If you’re trying to figure out how many steps should you take a day, turn to the experts. Many experts recommend walking 10,000 steps per day, or for 30 minutes. Yet some experts recommend more if you are looking to stay healthy, but most agree that 5,000 steps is the minimum you should aim for.

You may have noticed the popular trend of people using wearable tracking technology to check how many steps they are taking. These trackers are a great way to estimate how many steps should you take a day. It’s also easier to track your steps with a fitness tracker than it is to estimate the number of steps you take by manually counting or estimating using mileage. Yet some trackers aren’t as accurate as others. Many smart trackers also take some time to adjust to your step patterns and aren’t accurate right away. In order to ensure you’re taking at least the recommended 10,000 steps per day, try to surpass the goal in the beginning.

How Many Steps Are Too Many?

You want to ensure you’re walking enough, but you also don’t want to walk too much either. Walking too much can have an adverse effect on your health. Walking too much can take its toll on your body both physically and mentally. If you try to exercise more than the daily recommended amount, you can burn out pretty easily. Your body needs time to rest and recuperate between walking sessions. Try not to walk more than 20,000 steps per day to stay in the safe zone.

Should everyone be aiming for 10,000 steps each day? In reality, while 10,000 steps is a good benchmark to consider someone active, you should really take age into consideration as well. The following is a breakdown of how many steps you should be aiming for each day according to age, and level of activeness:

AgeSteps Per Day: MinimumSteps Per Day: ActiveSteps Per Day: Highly Active
4-6 years old6,000 steps10,000 steps14,500 steps
6-11 years old (female)6,000 steps11,000 steps13,500 steps
6-11 years old (male)6,000 steps13,000 steps15,500 steps
12-19 years old6,000 steps10,000 steps12,500 steps
20-65 years old3,000 steps7,000 steps11,500 steps
65+ years old3,000 steps7,000 steps10,500 steps

How Many Steps Do You Take At Work?

Your job likely plays a big role in determining how many steps per day you get in. For instance, the typical office worker will likely take less steps in a shift than a nurse working in a busy hospital. While you may not be getting your heart rate up while walking around at work, you’re probably taking more steps than you think, which will play a factor in determining how much exercise you need on a daily basis. The chart below will help you determine how many steps the average person in your industry is taking each day:

IndustrySteps Taken
Hospitality22,778
Medical16,390
Retail14,660
At-Home Parent13,813
Teaching12,564
Laborer11,585
Beautician9,209
Clerical7,570
Call Center6,618

How Many Calories You Burn When Walking

Your body can burn a significant amount of calories when walking. Human beings were originally nomads, so our bodies are used to walking several miles per day. Luckily, this also means that it’s easy for our bodies to burn calories when we walk too.

The number of calories you burn while walking depends on a few factors: your current weight, metabolic rate, and distance you walk. Your age may factor in this as well.

To simplify things, you can generally assume that a 180-pound person can burn about 100 calories per mile. The speed you walk can also factor into this. The faster you walk, the more calories you can burn.

How many steps per day do I need to lose weight?

There is no one size fits all answer for this, in order to lose weight you do need exercise and walking is an excellent way to begin exercising to lose weight. The other component to weight loss, which is arguably more impactful is your diet. Consuming the right amount of high quality calories, meaning healthy carbohydrates, proteins and fats in addition to walking will set you on the right track to lose weight.

One basic calculation that you can do to determine how many steps per day you need to lose weight is to calculate the number of calories your body needs and subtracting the number of calories you burn on a walk. To do so you should calculate your basic metabolic rate or BMR this is the number of calories your body will burn per day on its own, the chart below will guide you in finding your estimated BMR using the Harris-Benedict equation.

SexEquation
MaleBMR = 66 + (6.23 * weight in pounds) + (12.7 * height in inches) – (6.76 * age in years)
FemaleBMR = 655 + (4.35 * weight in pounds) + (4.7 * height in inches) – (4.7 * age in years)

Examples:

30 Year old Male, 6’1", 220lbs. BMR = 2,144.8 kcal/day.

30 Year old Female, 5’5" 170lbs. BMR = 1,542 kcal/day.

Now that you’ve calculated the number of calories your body will burn on it’s own, you can use this information to determine how many steps per day you’ll need in order to lose weight.

Many people scratch their heads at the 10,000 steps per day recommendation. Why do doctors recommend 10,000 steps per day? Is this some arbitrary number? Is there a good reason for this? Doctors recommend walking 10,000 steps per day if you want to lose weight. This is because every pound of fat burned equals roughly 3,500 calories. The average person will burn 3,500 per week if he or she walks around 10,000 steps per day. Yet these are simply estimates. To find out how many steps should you take a day, you’ll need to also factor in your weight and metabolic rate.

Steps Per Day Charts

Every person has their own goals and their own health conditions to take into consideration when implementing an exercise plan. If you’re looking to make a health step in the right direction and begin walking in order to increase your activity level and get some exercise, use these helpful charts in order to help you set a goal! Remember, when starting any new exercise program it’s okay to ease in and take it slow, you don’t need to go for 10,000 or more steps on your first day. Make sure to set a modest goal that is obtainable and focus on improving your goal each day.

How many steps a day is considered active?

If exercise hasn’t been a priority for you recently, or you’re looking to increase your activity level due to having a sedentary job, this chart is an excellent starting point. For instance the typical office worker will be considered sedentary, so a great goal to start with would be to try and make it into the low activity level with 5,000 - 7,499 steps per day. Once that’s achieved it will become easier and easier to improve and move into higher activity levels.

This chart is also very helpful when trying to calculate your basic metabolic rate or BMR, which is a statistic used to measure the number of calories that you should consume based on your goals whether that’s weight loss or muscle gain.

Activity LevelNumber Of Steps Per Day
Sedentary5,000 Steps or Less
Low Activity5,000 - 7,499 Steps
Somewhat Active7,500 - 9,999 Steps
Active10,000 - 12,500 Steps
Highly Active12,500 Steps or more

Is walking the recommended 10,000 steps enough to lose weight?

It will definitely help you reach your weight loss goals, however there are many other factors to take into consideration when planning your exercise routine. In addition to taking 10,000 or more steps per day you should also consider your calorie intake, your basic metabolic rate, and other underlying health factors that will determine whether walking is the right exercise choice for you when trying to lose weight.

Is walking too much bad for your knees?

If you have mild or moderate pain in your knees due to arthritis then walking can actually be beneficial by mobilizing your aching joints which allows for your joint fluid to lubricate the joint alleviating pain. Generally, with proper posture, comfortable footwear, and a health pace walking too much should not damage or cause harm to your knees. Of course, if you have any underlying conditions or if you have questions you should seek the advice of a medical professional.

What happens when you start walking more?

Walking can increase your bodies natural demand for energy, thus increasing your metabolism. If your goal is to lose weight this can be an excellent way to “jumpstart” your system, of course to see the results of walking you’ll need to pair the increased exercise with a proper diet, the necessary amount of calories, and most importantly you need to remain consistent.

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