A simple guideline for weight loss and overall health can be summed up by eat less, move more. Western societies are becoming more and more sedentary while waist lines and health risks are expanding. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggest healthy adults should get 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. Walking is a feasible exercise that can meet this guideline and is a popular exercise choice because it can be done almost anywhere.
There are many ways to monitor your fitness, and one way is to measure your steps with a pedometer. If you are trying to lose weight, how many steps should you aim for?
Many health organizations suggest getting about 10,000 steps per day, but maybe a more important measure is focusing on increasing your steps wherever you are at.
What is the average steps per day?
On average, most American adults get about 5,000 steps per day. Other countries tend to do a little better: Australia and Switzerland averages about 9,600 steps per day and Japan averages a little over 7,000 steps per day, according to a 2010 study.
Less sedentary societies, like Amish communities, get on average 18,000 steps per day for men and 14,000 steps per day for women.
Walking one mile is equivalent to about 2,000 steps, so most Americans walk about two and a half miles per day. In order to reach suggested 10,000 steps by some health organizations, most Americans need to double their steps.
Not surprisingly, countries that get an average higher steps per day have lower obesity rates. Getting Americans to take more steps during the day can be a feasible way to increase exercise and help keep off extra weight.
How many steps are required for weight loss?
While 10,000 steps per day is a common goal for weight loss that can seem like a far stretch for some people who barely get 5,000 steps per day.
No matter where you are with your steps, your goal should be to increase the amount you take and not get discouraged if it doesn’t equal up to 10,000. Any extra movement can help and increasing from 5,000 to 7,000 or 8,000 steps can still have health benefits.
The key is to find how you can fit more walking in through your day. Everyone is different in how getting more steps can be done in their day. Maybe it’s taking walk breaks throughout the work day, parking farther away from stores, getting off at an earlier bus stop or taking a walk after dinner instead of watching television.
In order to reach the CDC recommendation of exercise per week, you need to walk between 7,000-10,000 steps most days of the week. This can also be a target for weight loss, and remember the more steps you take, the sooner you can reach your weight loss goal.
The 20% plan
Instead of jumping from 5,000 steps to 10,000 steps in one day, taking a gradual approach to increasing your movement can be helpful.
Try increasing your steps by 20% each week or even every other week until you are at your goal. Don’t be discouraged if you aren’t near the recommended steps per day. Increasing your steps wherever you are at can be beneficial!
The 20% plan can be an easy way to bump up your movement. For example, if you are averaging about 3,000 steps a day, try increasing to 3,600 steps the next week. Once you are at 3,600 steps per day, try increasing 20% more the next week and so on.
How do you know how many steps you take?
Wearing a pedometer or other fitness tracking device is probably the best way to keep track of your steps. The first step is just remembering to wear your tracking device and resetting it every day.
Checking your device throughout the day can show you where you are getting the most movement and what times of the day you tend to be more sedentary.
Remember to listen to your body. Walking is considered a safe exercise for most people, but if you feel any pain while walking or have a history of heart problems, you may want to speak with a health care team before starting to increase your exercise.
Walking about 7,000-10,000 steps most days of the week can be a feasible way to reach exercise recommendations and help with weight loss. You can work up to this amount gradually; the main goal is to increase your steps wherever you are at.
Most Americans get about half of this recommended steps amount, so most people can stand to try to increase their steps per day.
Wearing a pedometer or other fitness tracking device can be an easy way to track your steps. See how many steps you can consistently get throughout the day and think of ways how you can add to your step count in your daily activities.
References used in this article