Why do I need 10,000 Steps a Day?

Families, Food and Fitness November 14, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Why do I need 10,000 Steps a Day?

10,000 steps a day (which equals about 5 miles) is a goal recommended by Shape Up America!, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and the American College of Sports Medicine. Studies have shown that walking 10,000 steps a day is the right ball park to be in.

How many steps do you walk each day?

A sedentary person may have 1,000 to 3,000 steps a day. The following chart provides an idea about steps and different activity levels. (Tudor-Lock, C. & Bassett, D.R. Jr. How many steps/days are enough? Sports Medicine, 34 (1): 1-8, 2004)

Steps per Day Activity Level
<5,000 Sedentary
5,000 - 7,499 Low Active
7,500 - 9,999 Somewhat Active
>10,000 Active
>12,500 Highly Active

What is a reasonable goal for you to be “active”?

man and woman walking with strollers

If your current average steps is <3,000 steps, add 500-1,000 steps per day everyday for a week. Then, add an extra 500-1,000 steps per day the following week. The idea is “Take it slowly”. Try to increase your steps about 20% a month.

If you are strong walkers, within 10,000 of the steps, 2,000-4,000 steps, should be done at a brisk pace (that means you cannot sing when you are walking!) to maximize health benefits (Harber et al, 2006).

Note: These recommendations are only a guide and do not provide medical advice. You should always consult with your doctor or healthcare professional before starting a physical activity program.

How do you measure you steps?



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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.