wikiHow to Walk 10,000 Steps a Day

Sitting in that office chair non-stop could be killing you. Failing to move regularly throughout your day can be a contributor to a range of diseases affecting your heart, circulation and respiratory systems, some of which could lead to an early death. Moreover, a general lack of fitness caused by a sedentary lifestyle can hamper your daily life by causing low energy levels, reducing your strength and causing you to become overweight or obese. Clearly, it's important to include regular exercise into your life but excuses abound––a lack of time, money or motivation are often used as reasons for remaining sedentary.

Fortunately, there is a way around this and it's something that almost every person can do––move and walk more each day. And a special initiative known as "10,000 steps" has been developed to provide an achievable goal that will ensure you move and walk enough each day to stay fit. With the simple addition of a pedometer and some walking shoes, following the 10,000 steps method will increase your fitness and improve your health.


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    Get motivated. The rationale behind "10,000 steps" a day is very simple––it's about staying motivated. Numerous studies undertaken by health experts revealed that many participants were more excited about counting 10,000 steps through both walking and general movement than by being asked to perform 30 minute walking stints.[1] Instead of viewing exercise as something to slot into a defined period each day, aiming to achieve 10,000 steps daily encourages you to keep moving throughout the day, actively seeking opportunities to add in some more steps here and there so that you accumulate steps throughout the day. And if the goal of 10,000 steps isn't motivator enough for you, here are some other great reasons to add 10,000 steps a day to your routine:
    • Walking is a low impact, effective way to lose weight.[2]
    • Walking helps to reduce blood pressure.[1] For those with hypertension, walking helps you to manage it better.[3]
    • Walking is good for reducing the risks of heart disease and stroke.[3]
    • Walking improves your cardiovascular and pulmonary (heart and lung) fitness.[3]
    • Walking increases muscle strength, helps create stronger bones, improves your balance and increases your endurance.[3]
    • Walking doesn't have to be either vigorous or prolonged in order to produce benefits––provided it's sprinkled throughout your day and consistent, you'll improve your overall fitness.[3]
    • You're never too old to walk. Another risk zone for sedentary behavior is post-retirement, yet a study of over 7,500 women has shown that women over 65 who became active reduced their risk of premature death by 48 percent.
    • Not walking or moving is hazardous to your health. Researchers studied a group of men that typically walk approximately 10,000 steps per day (as measured by a pedometer) and asked them to reduce their steps to only 1,350 per day. This meant taking elevators instead of stairs, driving to work and lunch. After two weeks, researchers found that the men’s bodies had become worse at metabolizing sugars and fats, not to mention that their distribution of body fat began to migrate toward their mid-section.[4]
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    Purchase a pedometer. To keep track of your steps, you'll need a pedometer. These can be purchased as a separate item or you can find them in such items as MP3 players and even in some pairs of shoes. Choose whatever is most cost-effective and practical for your needs; pedometers themselves are fairly inexpensive. When selecting one, check how it clips onto your clothing or belt to make sure it's comfortable, secure and durable.
    • When researching pedometers, look for existing users' comments about accuracy, reliability and validity of the results. Not all pedometers are reliable.
    • Provided you don't mind walking with a cell phone, a range of smartphone apps can keep a track of your walking steps, such as iTreadmill, My Weight Loss Coach, and iSteps.
    • Some digital body tracking devices, like “bodybug”, go beyond counting steps and can provide you with detailed information about how calories are metabolized based on the amount of activity or steps taken throughout the day. This gets pretty fancy, so only get one if it is information you truly want.
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    Choose a goal. If you're just getting started, 10,000 steps a day probably seems enormous. Don't worry––it won't take long to reach it! According to research into activity levels, anything under 5,000 steps a day is considered to be a sedentary lifestyle, and it isn't until you reach 10,000 steps a day that you're considered to be "active".[1][5] It is recommended that you begin walking as much as feels comfortable to you, then aim to walk in increments of 1,000 to 2,000 steps more each week until you're comfortably at 10,000 steps a day.[6] There is nothing stopping you walking more than this each day, but the aim is to always make 10,000 steps.
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    Divide your daily walking between active walking and incidental walking and movement. The aim behind 10,000 steps a day isn't just about deliberate walking but it's also about how much extra movement you can accrue throughout the day. As you get used to this added activity, you'll find yourself looking for all sorts of ways to avoid the easier options (like taking the elevator) and choosing the ones that involve movement (like taking the stairs). Very soon it simply becomes second nature to prefer the option that involves keeping you moving over the usual sedentary practices. Plan the small amount of additional time needed for walking over automated/sedentary approaches into your day––you'll be more alert and healthier for it, and therefore likely more productive in the time you do apply yourself to your work. As well as defined times for walks, try these incidental movement options every day:
    • As noted already, take the stairs instead of the elevator (lift) or escalators.
    • Walk everywhere you can instead of driving or catching a cab/taking a bus. Whether it's going to or from work, making deliveries or going to meetings in another office, try walking rather than catching transportation or driving.
    • Improve your fitness and your face-to-face encounters by visiting people in their offices or at their desks to talk, rather than simply emailing or calling all the time.
    • Stop every 45 minutes of computer work and take a 5 minute stroll around the office area or even duck outside briefly.
    • Move that chair! Get up from the chair and use it to perform stretches, push it around your office space or cubicle to add up the steps and try standing for a bit instead of sitting, shifting your weight from side to side to maintain movement.
    • Hand wash your work dishes instead of adding them to the dishwasher. Step from side to side as you do so, adding more movement to your day.
    • Do your household chores. Instead of seeing them as chores, convert them into more steps! What a way to get the house clean and keep fit––this might just be enough to convince you to keep moving.
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    Plan daily walks. Walking is an easy, enjoyable and generally safe exercise. It's an opportunity to get out of a building and discover your local neighborhood, park, woods, nature, etc. See walking as a way to stay engaged with your local environment rather than as a chore. Many people find that scheduling a regular time each day works best; however, if you can only slot in times as they come free, make the most of them––whatever the time of day or night, you're still using the same amount of energy and getting the same benefits. Just be sure to warm up and warm down before and after your walks, to avoid the potential for muscle injury. And to make it even more enjoyable to slot a planned walk into each day, here are some suggestions:
    • Dress appropriately for the weather; always use layers and be sure to dress warmly or coolly enough for the weather. Use sunglasses and other sun protection during the warmer months. Check that your shoes are comfortable for the walk or get yourself fitted for a decent pair before starting your daily walks. And take appropriate rain gear––rain shouldn't be an excuse for not walking!
    • Drink plenty of fluids before your planned walk, and after. If your walk will be long, take water with you.
    • Walk with a friend. If you can get a friend enthused in regular walks, it's likely the two of you won't even notice the distance covered!
    • Take your camera. Use your walks as an opportunity to record the neighborhood happenings, natural phenomena, anything intriguing or beautiful or perhaps anything that fits with a theme that you like.
    • Get your kids and family to walk with you. Children love the concept of 10,000 steps a day and will be excited to have their own pedometers and walking goals to meet. They will also be great at reminding you to walk daily.
    • Take your dog. Daily walks are a necessity for those with a dog, so including Fido will fulfill his exercise needs too and make it more enjoyable for you. And if you don't have a dog? Take your neighbor's dog instead.
    • Vary your walking routes regularly. This will keep it interesting.
    • Join a walking club. Make new friends and go to new places for your walks.
    • Schedule the occasional walking tour. Join locals and tourists alike on walking tours of historic areas of your town. Not only will this help to keep you fit but you'll learn something fun and perhaps unique too.
    • Use your lunch hour to work out or walk. Walk around the area where your office or work building is located. Getting to know the area better might bring other benefits like finding cool stores you didn't know were there or great new lunch places. Try going in different directions as often as possible.
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    Increase the intensity of your walks. Walking and running tend to burn the same amount of calories over the same distance, it is just that running is faster.[7] You can increase the pace of your walk and you can also increase the intensity by doing such things as climbing hills, walking in sand along the beach, walking with hand weights, interchanging between fast and moderate walking paces and walking longer distances as you become more comfortable with walking.
    • Include self-rewards for increasing both the amount of steps done weekly, as well as intensity increases. Treats could include going out for a meal, seeing a movie, buying something you really want, and so forth.
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    Set reminders to move. Initially it can be challenging to settle into a new routine, including one involving more daily movement. To help yourself, try setting reminders on your computer, watch, MP3 player, cellphone or whatever else you have with you that will prompt you to move for an allotted amount of time. Also be sure to schedule the planned daily walk(s) into your calendar. By setting reminders, you won't forget to build up the day's steps. Eventually it'll become natural and you can stop relying on reminders.
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    Keep a log of your daily actions. It doesn't matter what sort of log you use––digital app, computer spreadsheet or paper notebook and pen––just as long as you keep a record. A lot of the motivation will continue precisely because you can see the results in real form, by way of how many steps you've recorded for each day, and if you're also monitoring weight loss, strength improvement, fitness increases, etc., then you can also watch these change over time. A log can also help you to see which days had reduced steps, helping you to increase the steps another day or to see any sliding back into sedentary habits that might be occurring.
    • A very basic log is all that's needed, for example: Date: 10 October 2012; Baseline steps: 7, 978 steps. You can add more information if wished but this example represents the most important information to record.
    • Consider writing down your weekly goals, especially if you're still aiming to reach 10,000 steps a day, or you're aiming to move beyond 10,000 steps a day.
    • There are sites that will maintain a personal log for you (some also maintain workplace logs). These can also be a great source of contact with others walking 10,000 steps a day, as well as finding resources on walking.
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    Encourage your workplace or household to participate in a 10,000 steps a day initiative. If you're concerned about the sedentary lifestyle of your office or housemates, consider introducing everyone to the 10,000 steps a day initiative. At work, ask for help from your boss or human resources––your workplace might even be able to fund pedometers for everyone and maintain a workplace log and information section on the intranet to help people to stay motivated. At home, put up an inspirational chart for everyone to log their steps openly. In both cases, model the desired behavior by moving as much as possible throughout the day and taking frequent walks.


  • Make sure your footwear fits and is comfortable. Blisters and other pain to your feet will cause you stop walking.
  • Some workplaces, schools, colleges and government health initiatives offer pedometers for free. Ask before seeking to buy one! In Queensland, Australia, pedometers can even be borrowed through the local library. Perhaps you could ask your local library to consider doing the same, to encourage members of the community to improve their fitness.
  • If you have been mainly sedentary, work up to the 10,000 a day goal by walking 2,000 steps for a few days and then slowly increasing your step rate.
  • Recruit a friend or family member to help meet your 10,000 a day challenge––the camaraderie and even a little competitiveness will keep you engaged and interested.
  • The method of your walk is important. Avoid slamming your foot down––your steps should be light and easy, with your heel touching the ground before your toes.[3] Also, try to walk on softer surfaces rather than hard ones, wherever possible.
  • Fidget while at your desk. Believe it or not, fidgeting, which includes tapping your pencil on your desk, knee shaking or moving around or pacing while you work on deals over the phone burns more calories than you may think. A 1986 study revealed that subjects burned between anywhere between 1,300 to 3,600 calories in a 24 hour period simply by fidgeting.[8] Of course only fidget if you are not in an important meeting, talking to a teacher or trying to make a good impression for a client--you will only end up coming off as looking crazy.


  • Any amount of walking a day is better than none. Don't kid yourself out of doing some walking with the excuse that it's a waste of time––it is never a waste of time.
  • This article is a guide and not medical advice. Have a physical check up performed before you integrate any kind of exercise into your regime, especially if you’ve been sedentary.
  • If you walk where animal bites or attacks are a possibility, take appropriate precautions. Also beware of allergies or painful reactions that can be caused by pollen, poisonous plants and insect bites.
  • The goal of 10,000 steps may not be suitable for the elderly, for children or for people who are not well. Consult with your physician for details.

Things You'll Need

  • Pedometer (available from many sports, fitness and exercise wear retailers and also online)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Water bottle for hydration as needed
  • Appropriate walking clothes

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