Question: How many steps should I get?

Question and AnswerQuestion and Answer

A goal of ten-thousands steps is nothing but a number.


For over 50 years, experts and fitness fanatics have been pushing a goal of 10,000 steps per day. The goal is present as this magic number that will lead to instant fitness and better health. No matter whether you get 10,000 steps of exercise or not, neither result will lead to better health or fitness by itself. This goal is more a marketing attempt to sell more pedometers after the Olympics in 1965.

So, how many steps should I get? The answer is not as simple as 10,000 steps and is more of a range. The fact is that there is some research to back up getting more steps. Some research indicates that as little as 10-minutes of exercise can help with weight loss and improve health. Other studies point to as little as 4500 steps lowering morbidity and mortality. The fact is that you should get as many steps as you can tolerate (to a point).

More is not always better and can lead to injury if you overdo it. I suggest that you start small with 10 minutes of walking 3-5 days a week and add 5 minutes each day until you reach 30-45 minutes 3-5 days a week. The goal is a total of 150-180 minutes a week or more. Starting slowly will lower your risk of injury and help prevent stagnation.

Health and fitness are more than just exercise. In fact, if you are focused on weight loss and a slim waist, most of your progress will be made in the kitchen. Since exercise is also important to keep your heart-healthy, I recommend a combined approach.

Bottom line:  There is not a magical goal of steps to assist with health, fitness, or weight loss. Popular fitness experts and the manufacturers of fitness are trying to get you to focus on that goal of 10K steps so you will buy their products and services. Instead, start slow and focus on how many minutes you are exercising and build up to 150-180 minutes a week. The steps will come naturally as you add more minutes. Remember, weight loss is attainable one step at a time and one calorie at a time.

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About the Author

I am a family physician who has served in the US Army. In 2016, I found myself overweight, out of shape, and unhealthy, so I made a change to improve my health. This blog is the chronology of my path to better health and what I have learned along the way.

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