Walking 10,000 steps a day toward better health

Why should you aim to walk 10,000 steps?

For most Americans, walking 10,000 steps adds up to about five miles each day. The average American male walks 5,340 steps and female 4,912 steps. (And yes, this varies by age, race, ethnicity, location in country and marriage status.) Therefore, the end goal of 10,000 steps would require the average American to almost double their daily mileage.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intense exercise each week (30 minutes, 5 days per week). It takes about 30-40 minutes to walk 5,000 steps.

Below, are two very compelling reasons to increase your daily steps.

First, studies have shown that walking reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 31 percent.  If you are looking to decrease your risk of heart disease, 10,000 steps is a good goal.  

Second, increasing your daily steps can help you reach your weight loss goal. Here’s how:

Once you’ve determined how much weight you wish to lose, you will need to do some math.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends slow weight loss for lasting results — usually 1/2 pound to one pound per week. Completing 10,000 steps daily typically burns about 250 calories per day or 2,000 extra calories each week. To lose one full pound, you’ll need to burn roughly 3,600 calories. Depending on your weight and workout intensity, you could potentially lose about half of a pound per week simply by completing 10,000 steps each day.

Reviews of walking studies have shown that the best weight loss from walking is about 25 miles per week. This seems to be the tipping point of successful weight loss vs. increased calorie intake. That is about 7,500 daily steps above normal activity, or 12,800 for men and 12,400 for women. Running is quicker and burns more calories per mile than walking, but it is more strain on the joints.

With the convenience of iPhones, Androids and Fitbits, etc., step counting is easy and accurate. Now is the time to start the walking. 


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