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Is 10,000 Steps a Day Really Necessary?

A person wearing tennis shoes walks a trail.

The concept of walking 10,000 steps per day has gained popularity, especially with our advanced ability to track our steps on our iPhones and Apple watches. But is it really necessary?

Most people know that a daily walk is good for you, but how many steps will help you reach your goals? Do you really need 10,000 steps a day, what are the benefits of walking, and how do you incorporate it into your routine?

Why Are 10,000 Steps Per Day Recommended?

Over the years, the recommendation of 10,000 steps per day has gained popularity as a general guideline for physical activity and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

The origins of this recommendation can be traced back to a Japanese pedometer called “manpo-kei” which translates to “10,000 steps meter.” Recent studies show that the average adult naturally walks anywhere from 3,000- 6,000 steps a day. The goal of 10,000 steps has become the golden standard because it serves as a practical target for promoting heightened physical activity, due to all the benefits of this type of exercise.

Fitbit Inspire 2

Track your steps with Fitbit.

What Are the Benefits of 10,000 Steps a Day?

A person walks along a path wearing leggings, tennis shoes, and holding a water bottle.

Walking 10,000 steps per day offers numerous benefits for both physical and mental well-being. While the specific step count needed may vary based on individual factors, striving to incorporate regular movement and achieving a sustainable level of physical activity can have multiple benefits:

  • Improved Cardiovascular Health: Regular walking can help strengthen the heart, improve circulation, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease and stroke.
  • Weight Management: Walking burns calories and can contribute to weight loss or weight maintenance when combined with a balanced diet. Achieving 10,000 steps per day can help create a calorie deficit and support weight management efforts.
  • Increased Physical Fitness: Engaging in regular physical activity, including walking, helps improve overall fitness levels. Walking 10,000 steps per day can enhance endurance, strengthen muscles, and improve flexibility and balance.
  • Improved Mental Well-Being: Walking has been shown to boost mood and reduce symptoms of stress and anxiety. Regular physical activity, including achieving several thousand steps a day, can enhance mental well-being, promote relaxation, and improve sleep quality.
  • Better Bone Health: Weight-bearing exercises like walking stimulate the bones, helping to maintain their density and strength. Studies have shown that taking a brisk, 30-minute walk up to 3 times a week can reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

Do You Really Need 10,000 Steps a Day?

The recommendation of 10,000 steps per day serves as a practical goal for individuals to incorporate regular physical activity into their daily routines. However, it’s important to note that the specific number of steps needed can vary based on individual factors such as age, fitness level, and overall health.

For general movement guidelines, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week. This can be achieved through various forms of exercise, including walking.

In terms of step count, the key is to aim for a level of physical activity that is sustainable and enjoyable for you. It’s better to focus on incorporating regular movement throughout the day rather than fixating solely on reaching a specific step count. Every bit of movement counts and contributes to your overall health and well-being.

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Walking shoes with arch support.

How to Increase Step Count


If you’re looking to increase your step count regardless of whether you amp up your steps to 10,000 per day, here are some practical daily tips that you should be able to slide into your routine with ease.

  • Set Goals: Start by setting achievable goals based on your current activity level. Gradually increase your step count over time to avoid overexertion. If your goal is to walk 5 miles in a day, and you currently live a sedentary lifestyle, try walking half a mile first and work your way up from there.
  • Take Breaks and Move Regularly: Look for opportunities to incorporate more movement throughout your day. Take short walks during your breaks at work, choose stairs over elevators, or park your car farther away to add extra steps.
  • Walk Instead of Drive: Whenever possible, choose walking as a mode of transportation. Consider walking or cycling for short trips instead of using a car.
  • Find a Walking Buddy: Having a companion can make walking more enjoyable and help you stay motivated. Partner up with a friend (furry friends included), family member, or join a walking group in your community.
  • Utilize Technology: Wearable fitness trackers or smartphone apps can help you track your steps and set daily goals. They can provide feedback and serve as a visual reminder to keep moving.
  • Mix Up Your Routine: Explore different walking routes, try new environments such as parks or trails, or add variety by including intervals of brisk walking or inclines to challenge yourself.

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Stay comfortable while walking in these leggings.

Getting 10,000 steps a day might be held as a gold standard to some, but you can easily reap all the benefits of several thousand steps of movement by increasing your activity level overall. Find activities that you enjoy doing and do them regularly.

Jenn Vigh Jenn Vigh
Jenn is a pilates and yoga instructor, an aerialist, and a travel blogger with 5 years of experience in nonprofit communications, and over 10 years of experience writing, teaching, training, performing and collaborating with creatives across the globe. For the last 6 years, her American home-base has been Austin, TX, where she’s worked with the aerial dance company, Blue Lapis Light, and enjoyed the sunshine with her world-traveling yorkipoo, Sheila. Read Full Bio »
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