How Many Steps Should I Walk A Day To Be Healthy? 5000? 10000? or more?
One thing is very clear: 5000 or fewer steps, especially at a low pace is definitely not considered healthy.
In one study, women who walked ≥ 7,500 steps/day had a 50% lower risk of depression than women who walked <5000 steps/day.
Similarly, men who walked ≥ 12,500 steps/day had a 50% lower risk of depression than those who walked <5000 steps per day.[Ref].
Walking also helps you lose weight. In one study, post-menopausal women who walked 5,000-7,500 steps/day had a significantly lower BMI than those who walked fewer than 5000 steps/day.
Similarly, men who walked 7,500-9,999 steps/day had a significantly lower BMI than those who walked <7500 steps per day [Ref].
Your waist circumference will be reduced by 2.2 cm (women) to 2.8 cm (men) if you take 2000 additional steps per day [Ref].
To attain an optimal BMI, men need to walk 11000 to 12000 steps per day while women need to walk 8000 to 12000 steps per day.
The benefits of walking are summarized in the table below:
Steps per Day
Impact on Health and Well-being
|Risk of Depression||Women||≥ 7,500 steps/day||50% lower risk compared to <5,000 steps/day|
|Men||≥ 12,500 steps/day||50% lower risk compared to <5,000 steps/day|
|Lower BMI||Post-Menopausal Women||5,000-7,500 steps/day||Significantly lower BMI than <5,000 steps/day|
|Men||7,500-9,999 steps/day||Significantly lower BMI than <7,500 steps/day|
|Waist Circumference||Women||2,000 additional steps/day||Reduction of 2.2 cm in waist circumference|
|Men||2,000 additional steps/day||Reduction of 2.8 cm in waist circumference|
|Optimal BMI||Women||8,000-12,000 steps/day||To attain an optimal BMI|
|Men||11,000-12,000 steps/day||To attain an optimal BMI|
How many steps should I walk a day to be healthy and active:
A normal healthy adult takes between 4000 to 18000 steps per day. It is generally recommended to walk 10,000 steps daily at a rate of 100 steps per minute.
With a speed of 100 steps per minute, you need to walk at least 100 minutes daily (100 steps per minute x 100 minutes = 10,000 steps per day).
If you have been inactive for a while or walking fewer than 3000 steps per day, you don’t need to start walking 10,000 steps on the first day. It is generally recommended to increase the number of steps by 2000 to 2500 daily to reach your goal.
Activity, based on steps per day, has been classified into different categories as tabulated below [Ref]:
Graduated Step Index Category
Daily Step Range (Steps/Day)
|1.||Sedentary or Inactive||< 5,000 steps/day|
|1a) Basal Activity (Minimal Activity)||< 2,500 steps/day|
|1b) Limited Activity||2,500-4,999 steps/day|
|2.||Low Active (minimal physical activity)||5,000-7,499 steps/day|
|3.||Somewhat Active (Moderate physical activity)||7,500-9,999 steps/day|
|4.||Active (Relatively high physical activity)||≥ 10,000-12,499 steps/day|
|5.||Highly Active (very active)||≥ 12,500 steps/day|
A recent study presented here highlights the importance of walking daily in lowering cardiovascular death and death due to any cause.
Key points of the study:
- A study found a close association between fewer than 10,000 steps/day and risk reduction in all-cause mortality and CVD.
- Researchers found that increasing step cadence, or the rate at which steps are taken, from a low to an intermediate or high cadence was independently associated with risk reductions in all-cause mortality.
- The optimal dose for significant risk reduction was approximately 8,763 steps per day for all-cause mortality and 7,126 steps per day for incident CVD.
- The study’s results tell us that just adding a little more walking to your day, like going from 2,600 to 2,800 steps, can make a real difference in lowering your chances of mortality and heart problems.
Background of the study …
Decades worth of research has emphasized the importance of physical activity in an individual’s life. Mainly to prolong lifespan and reduce the risk of mortality and morbidity.
People mostly choose to walk or perform moderate-level exercise to remain active. So, the number of steps a human takes in a day says a lot about his activity status.
Previously, a Japanese company invented a device called ‘Manpo-kei’ in 1965, which meant ‘10,000 steps meter’ owing to its name; people believed in the association between 10k steps and physical fitness [Ref].
However, 10,000 steps a day is taking it too far, as former research from 2019 also concluded that even 7500 steps/day are enough to reduce mortality risks in older women [Ref].
Similarly, a new study analyzed the relationship between per-day step counts and all-cause mortality + cardiovascular events [Ref].
They concluded that taking as few as 2,600 to 2,800 steps per day can provide significant health benefits, especially in decreasing the chance of mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
The benefits continue to increase with higher step counts, with the most significant reductions in risk observed at around 8,800 steps for mortality and 7,200 steps for CVD.
Additionally, maintaining a moderate to high step cadence (the rate at which you take steps) is associated with even more mortality benefits.
These findings suggest that you do not need 10k steps to get the benefits of walking daily and be healthy.
Study findings and analysis:
The study analyzed data from 111,309 individuals across 12 different research studies to understand the relationship between daily step count and health outcomes, specifically all-cause mortality and incident cardiovascular disease.
They discovered that walking 2,700 steps a day was linked to an 11% lower risk of heart-related problems and that taking roughly 2,500 steps a day was linked to an 8% lower risk of death.
These results were contrasted with a daily average of 2,000 steps, which is what many individuals strive for.
In simple terms, it means that the more you walk, even just a little bit more, the healthier it can be for your heart and overall well-being.
Furthermore, the study revealed that additional steps beyond this threshold resulted in nonlinear risk reductions, with the optimal dose at 8,763 steps per day for all-cause mortality and 7,126 steps per day for incident CVD.
In conclusion, the study discovered a correlation between lower chances of incident CVD and all-cause death and higher daily step counts.
The risk reductions were particularly significant at specific step counts, and the association was nonlinear.
Furthermore, it seems that the kind of step counter employed affected the outcomes; hip-worn accelerometers were found to be superior to other tracking devices in terms of capturing the health advantages of higher levels of physical activity.
How to achieve your move goal?
There are quite a few effective methods for this; firstly, tracking your step count is essential.
Take some time out of your daily routine, walk for 10 minutes at an average pace, and track down your steps at the end. You will have completed 1,000 steps in the duration [Ref].
An effective way to increase your step count in 10 minutes is by walking faster. A study from 2017 also suggested that prescribing a walking cadence has the potential to increase physical activity [Ref].
Similarly, if you can not make time for physical activity in between work, then try skipping transport and walking to your workplace by leaving early. This will help you squeeze in more steps in your daily routine.
Or you can drive to your workplace but park your vehicle at a distance so you can walk towards the building at a faster cadence.
Another efficient way is to take the stairs instead of the elevator. This will get your heart pumping and healthy while you take extra steps in your daily goal.
What more can you do than just walk?
If your goal is to improve your cardiac health, then a moderate-intensity workout will be perfect for you.
Instead of walking, you can attempt running or jogging, which will increase your heart rate. This is suitable for 30 minutes every day, and you can begin at a slower pace and work your way up from there.
To strengthen your muscles, cycling is a decent choice. People often cycle in the morning since the air is fresh and the weather is inviting as well.
This exercise helps with improving coordination and preventing falls. If you work in an office where you stay seated for several hours, then cycling to your workplace and back home will be incredible for your physical activity.
Lastly, research has supported that small bursts of physical activity are effective in lowering mortality chances [Ref].
So, even if you’re unable to be active every day, it is still vital that you perform physical activity once a week.