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Should You Walk 10000 Steps per Day for Weight Loss?

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Updated April 03, 2014

10000 Pedometer Steps

10000 Pedometer Steps

Mark Harmel / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

Question: Should You Walk 10000 Steps per Day for Weight Loss?

I've heard that we should walk 10,000 steps per day for fitness and weight loss. How did they come up with this 10,000 steps per day number? Is this a fitness myth, or is there any research that shows that it works?

Answer: Walking 10,000 steps per day for health and weight loss was popularized originally in Japan. Pedometer researcher Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke says the original figure was not based on medical research. Several researchers have been playing catch-up on this, including Tudor-Locke. Research studies show it isn't a magic number, but it is a good indicator of how much activity a person is achieving in a day.

10,000 Steps Per Day Matches Exercise Recommendations

An inactive person takes 3,000 steps or less just in daily activity of moving around the house. Ten thousand steps is approximately five miles of walking during the day. Unless you have an active job such as a waitress or nurse, it would be difficult to log 10,000 steps just with daily activity. Most people achieve it by one or more sustained walks or runs, the equivalent of 30-60 minutes or more of walking per day. That equals the minimum daily exercise recommendation by most health authorities to reduce health risks.

Do You Burn Enough Calories With 10,000 Steps Per Day?

The number of calories you burn by walking depends primarily on how much you weigh, and secondarily on your speed of motion. We all burn calories just sitting and breathing, which you can estimate with our calories per day calculator.

Many pedometers estimate your walking step calories burned for you. You can use our pedometer steps calorie calculator to estimate this for yourself. You will need to know your approximate steps per mile.

Each 2,000-2,500 steps is about a mile. Walking a mile burns about 80 calories for a 150-pound person.

Bottom Line: Depending on your weight, walking 10,000 steps burns between 250 and 600 calories. Most weight loss programs recommend burning 200-300 calories per day in moderate to vigorous exercise. If you walk 10,000 steps per day with 3000 of those steps at a brisk walking to jogging pace, you should be burning enough calories.

If You Continue to Gain Weight, Add More Steps

If you are already logging 10,000 steps a day and not losing or maintaining your weight, then the key is to add another 2,000 steps per day (and/or eat fewer calories).

If that still doesn't work after a couple of weeks, add more steps or eat less. Logging even more steps becomes time-intensive at that level. Increasing your exercise intensity so more of your steps are brisk walking or jogging, or eating fewer calories can be effective tactics to losing weight if you are already active. A food and exercise diary can help you spot where to make improvements.

Start Counting Your Steps

Pedometer Steps Research

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