10,000 Steps a Day: Too Much? Too Little?”

Sep 3, 2023

When you count your daily steps, is 10,000 enough — or perhaps too much? Learn how walking can improve your health and how to set the right goal.

Mayo Clinic Staff: “You’ve just acquired a new activity tracker and you’re ready to aim for 10,000 steps a day. But is that an appropriate goal for you? It all depends on your current fitness level and what you want to achieve.

The average American takes 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles. It would be good to find out how many steps you currently take each day. Then, you can work toward the goal of 10,000 steps by aiming to add an extra 1,000 steps per day every two weeks.

If you’re already walking more than 10,000 steps a day or if you’re fairly active and trying to lose weight, you may want to set a higher daily step goal.”

Benefits of Walking

Why set a daily step goal? Walking is a form of physical activity that is accessible to most people. You don’t need any special equipment other than supportive walking shoes. And there’s no need for an expensive gym membership.

Nevertheless, regular walking as an activity can help reduce the risk of these common health issues: heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression.

Some Activity Is Better Than None

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, such as brisk walking. But you don’t have to jump right into a goal of 150 minutes. Start where you are and gradually increase your activity week by week.

Those 150 minutes per week can be divided in various ways. Some people aim for 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Others fit in 10-minute bouts of exercise several times a day.

Even if your walking pace isn’t very brisk, those steps still help counteract problems that can arise from sitting too much during the day. Adding any regular activity to your routine is beneficial.

How to Incorporate More Steps into Your Day

Once you’ve determined your goals, try these ideas to incorporate more walking into your routine: Take your dog for a walk. If you don’t have a dog, volunteer to walk dogs at an animal shelter. Or combine your activity with socializing by joining a friend for a walk with their dog.

Try music. Upbeat tunes or something with a strong rhythm can make the activity more enjoyable and motivate you to walk farther or faster.
Involve your family. Instead of an afternoon movie, go for a walk or hike together.

Walk while you wait. Opt to stroll rather than sit when you arrive early for an appointment or while waiting for a flight.

Schedule walks during your workday. Set reminders in your calendar for short walk breaks to boost your energy throughout the day. Have a one-on-one meeting? Plan to walk and talk.

Park farther away. Choose parking spots that are farther from the entrance. If you’re taking public transportation, get off the bus a stop early and walk the rest of the way.
Take the stairs. Even going downstairs counts as steps and burns calories.

How far will you go today? Your goal will depend on your starting point. But almost everyone can reap the benefits of walking more, one step at a time.

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