10,000 Steps: How Many Steps a Day Should You Take?

10,000 Steps

Do you have a daily step goal or regularly track how many steps a day you take? UnityPoint Health Physical Therapist, Jeremy Fehrmann, PT, DPT, talks about the popular 10,000 steps per day trend, including how health benefits increase with every step you take.

Recommended Steps per Day

Fehrmann partially credits the 10,000 steps benchmark to activity and fitness trackers. He says research is starting to show people who achieve 10,000 steps per day are likely to reach the recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day goal set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“Without extra activity, people’s average steps per day equal roughly 4,000 to 7,000 steps,” Fehrmann says. “Three thousand to 6,000 additional steps every day (or 1.5 to 3 miles) should come from another source of activity.”

Recent studies also support that taking 10,000 steps a day helps with weight loss, reduces body mass index (BMI), reduces blood pressure and increases high-density lipoprotein. But, when encouraging patients to add exercise into their routines, Fehrmann says he focuses more on minutes of physical activity, rather than steps taken.

“For adults 18-64 and older, I suggest 10 minutes of activity three to four times per day, outside of normal daily activities. From there, the goal would be to have patients increase intensity within those 10 minutes periods. Ideally, patients would follow CDC recommendations, achieving 150 minutes of moderate intensity activities. However, achieving 150 minutes of vigorous activity per week or 300 minutes of moderately intense exercise over the course of a week will have a greater effect on overall health,” Fehrmann says.

In most cases, patients don’t need to worry they’re taking too many steps, although, certain age groups do have slightly different step count goals and activity needs. For example, children need more activity than adults, getting 60 minutes daily, with at least 30 of minutes intense activity, three times per week. Additionally, pregnant women should work toward 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise, after talking to their provider.

How Many Steps a Day to Lose Weight

While 10,000 steps may be a good goal to help lose weight, Fehrmann says weight loss is often hard to predict.

“Weight loss depends on diet and exercise. If caloric intake (diet) is the same as caloric output (exercise, plus normal calories burned), weight will remain the same. Even how many calories burned during an activity can vary based on a patient’s intensity and current weight. I wish I could say a certain number of steps would guarantee weight loss, and while taking 10,000 steps a day may help, there are many contributing factors,” Fehrmann says.

But, Fehrmann offers this advice for patients looking to make a change in their overall health:

“In order for lifestyle change, get moving by joining an exercise class, using fitness tracker challenges or signing up for races. It is also important to find an activity you enjoy, so you’re more likely to continue doing it long term. Competition with friends is another great way to get up and get moving, while holding each other accountable.

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