I walked 10,000 steps every day for a week

Diana J. Smith

Not too long ago, this notion of needing to walk 10,000 steps a day became of utmost importance to people. Fitness tracker and step counter sales boomed and surged. But is walking 10,000 steps a day really an attainable goal?

That completely depends on your own lifestyle and career. I work a 9 to 5 office job. Well, I did. I am no longer in an office. My commute went from running to catch trains four times a day to walking a couple of feet from my bedroom to my living room.

As I’ve mentioned once or twice before, I am on a health and fitness journey as I’m fast approaching my 30th birthday. I don’t want to focus on weight loss, but I do want to incorporate healthy habits into my day-to-day life. I already own a Fitbit, which I use mainly to track my workouts and sleep, so walking 10,000 steps a day was something I felt I could attempt since I had one of the tools already.

Benefits of Walking 10,000 Steps a Day

Tyrone was my #1 motivator for this challenge.

Tyrone was my #1 motivator for this challenge.

Ana Suarez for Hearst Newspapers

Upon researching, I found that there is no correlation between walking 10,000 steps a day and being healthy. It became obvious that “10,000 steps” was just a nice, round number that gained popularity when everyone started buying step counters. It might be the recommended number of daily steps from Fitbit when you set up your account, but you’re able to change that to a more attainable goal for your own lifestyle.

Fitbit broke down the math of why they recommend 10,000 steps in a blog post. The number is ultimately to lose 1 pound a week and to maintain weight loss.

However, when talking to former Surgeon General, Dr. Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD, MPH, FACPM. Rear Admiral, USPHS, the daily step count you actually need is half of the step counter recommendation. He said:

“The number of steps a person takes in a day is not an ideal benchmark nor is it an accurate indicator of physical health. In fact, the concept of walking 10,000 steps a day as the minimum for good health was inspired by marketing, not science, when a Japanese company launched a new pedometer named the “10,000-step meter” with the slogan, “Let’s walk 10,000 steps a day.” In 2019, a study went on to confirm that taking only 4,400 steps can be beneficial to your health. Instead, regular exercise should be the goal, even if it is just 20 minutes per day.”

In short, it’s less about taking a precise number of steps, and more about meeting a minimum number of active minutes. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, adults need between 150 and 200 minutes a week of moderate-to-intensity activity. That kind of activity includes:

  • Walking briskly (2.5 miles per hour or faster)
  • Swimming
  • Riding a bicycle (slower than 10 miles per hour on even terrain)
  • Tennis
  • Power yoga or pilates
  • Ballroom or line dancing
  • General yard work and home repair work

Working out earned me anywhere from 500 to 2,000 steps.

Working out earned me anywhere from 500 to 2,000 steps.

Ana Suarez for Hearst Newspapers

If you’re looking for more intense activities, the recommendation is about 75 to 150 minutes a week. Those activities include:

  • Jogging & running
  • Swimming laps
  • Vigorous dancing
  • Riding a bike (faster than 10 miles per hour)
  • Jumping rope
  • Hiking
  • High-intensity interval training (HIIT)
  • Exercise classes (like kickboxing) 

The benefits of walking (not running) are very widely touted. In a 30 minute walk, you can burn between 150 to 300 calories, depending on your weight and fitness levels. The American Heart Association lays out the benefits quite well:

  • Lower risk of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, dementia and Alzheimer’s, several types of cancer, and some complications associated with pregnancy
  • Better sleep, including improvements in insomnia and obstructive sleep apnea
  • Improved cognition including memory, attention, and processing speed
  • Less weight gain, obesity, and related chronic health conditions
  • Better bone health and balance, with less risk of injury from falls
  • Fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Better quality of life and sense of overall well-being

How to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

I picked the worst week, temperature and weather wise, to do this challenge.

I picked the worst week, temperature and weather wise, to do this challenge.

Ana Suarez for Hearst Newspapers

Ahead of doing this assignment, I did some research to check out other articles where people attempted this challenge. I think the most annoying thing I saw was “easy” ways to walk 10,000 steps a day. If you were not already walking that many steps a day because of work, it is not easy. Going from 2,000 to 10,000 is no simple jump.

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