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

Agnus Smith Published: June 14, 2018 Updated: September 19, 2018

Lacing up shoes

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 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.

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.

Why 10,000 Steps are Recommended Each Day

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 Chart

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 steps  10,000 steps14,500 steps
 6-11 years old  (female)6,000 steps 11,000 steps 13,500 steps 
 6-11 years old  (male) 6,000 steps 13,000 steps 15,500 steps  
12-19 years old  6,000 steps10,000 steps 12,500 steps 
20-65 years old 3,000 steps 7,000 steps 11,500 steps 
65+ years old 3,000 steps  7,000 steps 10,500 steps