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Should You Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day for Weight Loss?

You’ve probably heard that you should walk 10,000 steps per day for fitness and weight loss — but how many miles is 10,000 steps, and why is that number important? Initially, this concept of walking approximately 5 miles originated as a way to get people to move more. But now, researchers are investigating whether it’s a useful goal.1

So far, studies show that 10,000 steps per day isn’t a magic number, but it is a good indicator of how much activity a person is achieving in a day. In fact, one study of steps per day and weight showed that people who took more steps per day weighed less, on average.2

Getting 10,000 steps burns about 340 calories for a 170-pound person walking at a brisk pace, which helps contribute to weight balance. If getting 10,000 steps per day is your goal, here is what you need to know about getting those steps in.

How to Get Your 10,000 Steps

How many miles is 10,000 steps? This distance is equal to walking approximately 5 miles. Unless you have an active job, such as a waiter or nurse, it is difficult to log 10,000 steps with daily activity only. An inactive person takes 3,000 steps or less in their daily activity of moving around the house.

Most people achieve 10,000 steps by taking one or more sustained walks or runs, the equivalent of 30 to 60 minutes of walking. That equals the minimum daily exercise recommendation from most health authorities to reduce health risks.3

If you’d like to take more daily steps for health and fitness, start by determining your baseline. Track your steps for a week or so using an activity tracker or smartphone app (many phones have a built-in step counter). You don’t have to jump from 3,000 steps a day to 10,000 overnight.

Once you have a sense of your daily average, aim to add 2,000 to 2,500 steps a day to begin (about a mile).4 Walking a mile burns about 80 calories for a 150-pound person. As you get comfortable with this additional exercise, lengthen your walks, or take more short walks, so you get closer to 10,000 daily steps. In adding steps, you may find it helpful to consider wearing ankle support shoes.

How Many Calories Does 10,000 Steps Burn?

Depending on your weight, walking 10,000 steps burns between 250 and 600 calories. You can use a steps to calories converter chart to estimate this for yourself. You will need to know your approximate steps per mile.

Most weight loss programs recommend burning 200 to 300 calories per day in moderate to vigorous exercise. The number of calories you burn by walking depends primarily on how much you weigh and secondarily on your speed of motion.

Everyone burns calories just sitting and breathing, which you can estimate with this calories per day calculator. You burn more calories per minute when you get up and walk, and even more if you run.

Numerous activity monitors, like the Fitbit and Apple Watch, calculate your caloric expenditure by counting your steps. When calculating how many calories you burn, these devices also account for the speed at which you are walking or jogging.

How to Add Steps and Intensity

Walking 10,000 steps per day, with 3,000 of those steps at a brisk walking to jogging pace, should help you burn enough calories to lose weight.5 If you are already logging 10,000 steps a day and not losing weight or maintaining your weight, then the key is to add another 2,000 more steps per day while eating the same amount or less.

You can boost intensity by taking more of your steps at a brisk walking or running pace, or adding intervals such as hills or stairs. Also try to set aside time for dedicated moderate-to-vigorous-intensity exercise, whether that is walking, resistance training, or some other form of exercise that you enjoy. Many fitness trackers and smartwatches detect whether or not your movement is enough to be considered moderate or vigorous exercise.

For weight loss, also work on eliminating empty calories and getting good nutrition from everything you eat. A food and exercise diary can help you spot where to make improvements. Some online programs or phone apps let you track all your data in one place (fitness, nutrition, sleep, water intake, and so on).

A Word From Verywell

If your goal is to increase your steps in a day, start by getting a good handle on how many steps you are already taking in a day’s time. From there, you can set goals for gradually increasing your steps. Moving in manageable chunks toward your goal is more effective than trying to do everything at once. Plus, there is less chance of getting injured or feeling overwhelmed along the way.

Additionally, if you are hoping to achieve your weight management goals by adding more steps, it can help to talk to a healthcare provider first or even a registered dietitian. They can help you put together a plan that works for you.

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