The average person takes between 2,000 and 5,000 steps daily performing typical activities of life like moving about the house or office and doing errands. This level of activity is considered sedentary. Here’s how physical activity guidelines rate the number of steps you take in a day.
2,000 – 5,000 steps/day = sedentary
5,000 – 7,499 steps/day = low activity
7,500 – 9,999 steps/day = somewhat active
10,000 – 12,499 steps/day = active
12,500 steps/day = highly active
The intensity of your walking contributes to the health and fitness benefits you will gain from walking. To achieve moderate intensity, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends a rate of at least 100 steps per minute. So if you walk for 30 minutes, you should aim for 3000 steps to get the most health and fitness benefits from your walking. A fitness tracker or a simple pedometer and a wristwatch are all the tools you need.
Since health benefits can be achieved with bouts of exercise lasting as little as 10 minutes, a useful starting point is to try and accumulate 1000 steps in 10 minutes. Then build up to 3000 steps in 30 minutes as you make your way to 10,000 steps in a day. If you’re new to exercise, start by taking a daily 15-minute walk after dinner to accumulate more steps. Increase this amount gradually until you reach your 10,000-step goal.
If you’re looking for ways to spice up your walking routine, try the following variations:
- Walk as much as possible: take stairs; get off the bus a stop early; walk to the store; park in the far end of the parking lot
- Swing your arms to build momentum and burn off more calories
- Add intervals of high speed walking for 30 seconds every 2 – 3 minutes
- Walk up and down hills or stairs to build stamina and strength
- Choose varied terrains to build balance and burn more calories
- Try using walking sticks to enhance your upper-body workout
- Try walking backwards – but be careful!
“How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indicies for public health”. Tudor-Locke, C., Bassett, D. R. Jr., Sports Medicine 2004;34(1):1-8