Be Well Blog

Do You Really Need to take 10,000 Steps Daily?

Maybe you just bought a new activity tracker. Maybe you’re ready to tackle a new fitness goal. Or maybe, you just want to feel good each day. Whatever your reason for tracking, how do you determine how many steps to take each day? People are constantly talking about 10,000 steps, so it sounds like a great goal, right? But is that the best number for you?

Why 10,000 Steps?

According to NPR, there is nothing magical about the number 10,000. This benchmark started as a marketing campaign, which was launched to promote the Manpo-kei (10,000 steps meter) pedometer sold in Japan back in the 1960s. And later, this milestone number was adopted in the U.S. as a goal to promote good health. When you purchase a Fitbit, one of the top go-to activity trackers out there, everyone begins with a 10,000-step goal. The Fitbit breaks down the 10,000 steps into approximately five miles for the average person, and it’s is meant to be compliant with the CDC’s recommendation of 30 minutes of daily exercise (or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.)

What’s Realistic?

The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles. So, 10,000 steps may be a lot to take on. Your goal will depend on your personal needs and will likely shift over time, whether you want to lose weight,  recover from a recent injury or just increase your activity level. Whatever your goal is, focus on establishing your own baseline before you decide on your first milestone. See how many steps you take daily, and then work up to the goal of 10,000 steps by aiming to add 1,000 extra steps a day.

Walking an extra 1,000 each day may not get you to 10,000 as quickly as you may like, but you will experience significant health benefits along the way—and the extra walking can help counter the negative effects of all those hours spent at your desk. After all, increasing physical activity is good for a variety of illnesses, from obesity, heart disease and high blood pressure to prediabetes/diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.

How to Get to 10,000

If it’s time to level up your goals, there are so many ways you can incorporate more movement throughout your day. Try parking a little further from the building when you arrive at work in the morning. Once at work, walk over to your co-worker’s desk instead of sending an email, and opt to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Lastly, look for fun apps or games that allow you to get moving! Remember Pokemon Go? That got a lot of gamers off the couch a few years ago, and now there is Just Dance, Wii Sports and Playstation Sports. And if you have children, check out GoNoodle for some fun family videos with kid-friendly moves you will all love! Click here for fun ways to add steps each day—and even if you’re already at 10,000 steps, you can use these ideas to take your activity to the next level!