What are the benefits of getting 10,000 steps a day?

by Linda DeGroot
by Linda DeGroot

Co-Founder at 30/10 Weight Loss for Life

The average American walks anywhere between 3,000-4,000 steps a day, which is 6,000-7,000 steps less than the recommended 10,000 steps a day. Getting 10,000 steps a day, being anywhere between 3-5 miles a day depending on your stride, is encouraged to increase daily activity and movement, especially for those with sedentary lifestyles and jobs. The exercise of walking in general has health benefits such as reducing the risk for heart disease, obesity, type II diabetes, and high blood pressure. About 60% of U.S. Adults do not get the recommended amount of activity each day, but 25% of U.S. Adults get zero activity at all! (1) That is 85% of Americans getting little to no activity in a day!

So what is the difference between daily movement versus 10,000 steps a day? By increasing your daily movement to the recommended amount of steps, it:

  • Can strengthen your heart by increasing blood flow
  • Can be a great calorie burn, for the average person being ~150 calories per hour depending on the person’s gait, speed, height, weight, age, and gender
  • Increases blood flow to brain and can decrease stress hormones 
  • Releases endorphins, the feel good hormone, which makes us calmer, increases natural energy levels, and improves sleep and mood!

Ways to increase your daily steps to 10,000 steps a day include:

  • Park further away at work or when running errands. This could be parking at the back of the parking lot or if that is not an option, try walking around more on your errands such as up and down each aisle at the grocery store (just don’t be tempted with unnecessary purchases!)
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator. This will increase your heart rate a little more during the day and is a great way to improve daily movement.
  • Take your pet for more frequent and/or longer walks. You and your pet will enjoy it! Map out a route for about 1 mile, or if you normally get 3,000 steps everyday without extra walking, then plan your walk to help you meet 10,000 steps! 
  • Walk around more at work. If you are able to walk instead of sending an email, this can help get your steps in! 
  • Walk while you wait for appointments. Arrive early to check in and do a lap around the parking lot! 
  • Most importantly, find a way to track how many steps you get in a day! If you plan to use your phone, just know the steps that it will account for will only be the steps you get while you have your phone on you. You can increase the accuracy of your steps by using a smartwatch or pedometer to count your steps!

It is important to remember that some activity is better than none! If you currently don’t exercise or are looking to increase your steps, see what your current daily average is and set that as your baseline. Increase your baseline by 1,000 steps until you make your way to 10,000 steps a day! If you feel like you can do more, then continue the pattern, but be sure to not push yourself too hard.


Physical Activity and Health: A Report of the Surgeon General

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