10,000 Steps for Health
“A journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step” – Lao Tzu
Americans and people around the world are facing a physical inactivity crisis. With the exponential growth of technology in the work place and desk-based jobs, daily physical activity has taken a major hit. However, the use of wearable physical activity trackers has gained a large amount of interest in recent years and is being promoted as a way to combat declining physical activity by making people more aware of their daily activity levels.
Notably, these physical activity trackers have brought to the forefront of health and wellness the notion that walking 10,000 steps per day is an optimal physical activity goal. However, can walking 10,000 steps really help you achieve your weight loss and health goals? What does the scientific research say about it all? Here, we will briefly review what the science says about the 10,000-step goal and how achieving this goal may help shape a healthier you!
In general, have you wondered how this 10,000-step goal came about? The original story came from a research group in Japan who found that men who walked greater than 10,000 steps during the work day had the lowest risk for the development of cardiovascular disease. Since then, this 10,000-step set-point has become the hallmark number to achieve and is now recognized as a general guideline for daily physical activity for those who consider walking to be their primary form of exercise (1).
Here are some general numbers to keep in mind:
2,000-2,200 steps = ~1 mile (for the majority of people)
10,000 steps = ~5 miles
How many calories will I burn?
1 mile = ~70-100 calories burned
5 miles (10,000 steps) = ~350-500 calories burned (intensity and body weight dependent)
Walking 10,000 steps per day can help you burn an average of 425 extra calories per day or about 3,000 extra calories per week! *relative to not walking at all
What does the science say about 10,000 steps for weight loss and weight maintenance?
In a cross-sectional analysis of 200 women, it was found that women who walked >10,000 steps/day had lower body fat (~2.9%), lower body mass index values (BMI), and lower waist circumferences compared to women whom walked <10,000 steps/day on average (2)![endif]--
[endif]--In a study of 35 obese adults who were instructed to walk 10,000 steps/day and received dietary counseling for 6 months, subjects lost on average 3.7 kg (8 lbs), reduced their BMI by 1.4 points, reduced total fat mass by 4.0 kg (8.8 lbs). Subjects increased their daily step count by 7,579 steps which was followed by an increase in lean body mass, energy expenditure (78 Calories/day), and improved quality of life (3)
In a group of 30 overweight sedentary adults who walked on average 10,500 steps/day for 12-weeks saw reductions in body weight (3.4 lbs), waist circumference (2.30 cm), BMI (0.62 kg/m2), body fat (3.15%) and had increased lean body mass (4). Additionally, markers of mental health were improved.
In summary, research shows that individuals who reach 10,000 steps per day have improved health outcomes including improved body composition, reduced body fat, and are likely to be at reduced risk for cardiovascular complications (3, 5). Thus, setting a daily goal to reach 10,000 steps per day may help you achieve your health goals over the long term and can be one more strategy in your wellness tool-box to help you achieve a healthier you! Even if you feel that 10,000 steps is currently a lofty fitness goal, or if you aren't able to reach it every day, simply working towards increasing your daily step count is a step in the right direction! Even small changes in your physical activity routine can make a big difference in your health. So, what are you waiting for? Get up, tie those laces, and GOAT GET EM! ![endif]--
Curious for more? Send The Healthy Goat suggestions on topics you would like to learn more about, and our team of nutrition and fitness experts will do their best to get you the information you’re dying to know!
Le Masurier GC, Sidman CL, Corbin CB. Accumulating 10,000 steps: does this meet current physical activity guidelines? Res Q Exerc Sport. 2003;74(4):389-94.
Bailey BW, Borup P, Tucker L, LeCheminant J, Allen M, Hebbert W. Steps measured by pedometry and the relationship to adiposity in college women. J Phys Act Health. 2014;11(6):1225-32.
Castres I, Tourny C, Lemaitre F, Coquart J. Impact of a walking program of 10,000 steps per day and dietary counseling on health-related quality of life, energy expenditure and anthropometric parameters in obese subjects. J Endocrinol Invest. 2016;
Yuenyongchaiwat K. Effects of 10,000 steps a day on physical and mental health in overweight participants in a community setting: a preliminary study. Braz J Phys Ther. 2016;
Cocate PG, de Oliveira A, Hermsdorff HH, Alfenas Rde C, Amorim PR, Longo GZ, Peluzio Mdo C, Faria FR, Natali AJ. Benefits and relationship of steps walked per day to cardiometabolic risk factor in Brazilian middle-aged men. J Sci Med Sport. 2014;17(3):283-7.