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Do You Need 10,000 Steps a Day?

  • September 14, 2016
  • By Brittany
Do You Need 10,000 Steps a Day?

Well I would walk 10,000 {steps} and I would walk 10,000 more.  But would you really? We have all heard the recommendation to reach 10,000 steps a day to maintain your health and avoid the negative impacts of sitting.  But, have you ever tried to actually reach this goal?  Or do you just assume that you get about there everyday?  Recently a friend told me that her plan (and she is definitely not alone!) is to do her toning classes focused on strengthening her body and reach 10,000 steps a day to burn calories and keep the fat at bay.  This intrigued me and I set out to find out if this was a viable fitness plan.  How difficult is it to reach 10,000 steps a day and how does it impact my health?

Well, let me tell you, it is not easy!  I started using my Apple Watch to track my steps everyday.  The nice thing is that it also tells me my total active calories and the distance I have covered for the day.  I don’t know about you but I really enjoy looking at my stats and I feel a bit lost when I work out without a heart rate monitor on.  I like to check in on the numbers even if I don’t have any specific goal in mind.

When I started out on this project, I assumed that I would easily hit 10,000 steps a day given how active I am.  I workout most days of the week, I no longer sit at a desk job, I often walk with my son and I am constantly chasing after him!  Surprisingly, reaching my daily steps was a lot harder than I anticipated.  

I found that the days I hit 10,000 usually liked something like this:

– Wake up, get child up and have breakfast

– Run after child to convince him one cannot leave house naked (he makes good effort to do so)

– Take child for a walk. Usually this lasted about 35 minutes and covered about a mile and a half.

– Took child to beach or did some other activity that does not involve a lot of sitting such as taking him to a water park or farm or somewhere he can run but I cannot sit!

– Have lunch.

– Workout.  Yes, my workouts counted towards my step count!  I found that days I did just Pilates or even barre, it was more difficult to increase my step count than days I did something like jump on my mini trampoline or dance cardio.

– Play with child.

– Run around preparing dinner, feeding child, bathing child and putting child to bed.

Phew! I’m exhausted just thinking about this!  That is a lot of activity!  


On the days where I did not realize my goal, I  usually got pretty close maxing out around 8,000 steps, which is still pretty good!  On these days, I was usually very active but I found myself pacing in my room at around 9pm trying to up my goal.  I’m not sure that is what they mean when they challenge you to 10,000 steps a day!  It can make you a little crazy when you don’t get there.  Also, occasionally I would not be able to wear my tracker, for instance at the beach or in the shower so sometimes my steps would not be recorded.  

walking along the canal

In general, I was active most days and got relatively close to 10,000 steps although because my favored workouts are barre and pilates, which did not significantly increase my step count, I found myself just short of 10,000 steps on most active days (between 8,000-9,000).  On rest days, I was not even close to 10,000.  If I didn’t take a walk, workout and do something fairly active that required a lot of walking, I didn’t have much hope of getting close to my goal.  Although I am not really sure this is a bad thing since everyone needs a rest day, including my hip flexors!


So why 10,000 steps?  Actually this is an incredibly arbitrary number.  It originally came about because the first pedometer made in Japan was set to 10,000 steps and called a 10,000 step monitor.  10,000 steps is not officially recommended by the CDC, who says that you should get 150 minutes of moderate activity a week, which equals 7,000 to 8,000 steps a day.  Most adults get about 5,000 steps a day and the overarching recommendation is to increase the number of steps to have a positive impact on your health.  So if you are currently at 5,000 steps a day, try increasing to 6,000 and then 7,000.  If you can, continue on to 8,000 and if you can get to 10,000–great!  But don’t get caught up in the number.  Just increasing your step intake will help lower your blood pressure and have other positive impacts on your health.  

[bctt tweet=”Is 10,000 steps a day a realistic goal? #fitness #walking” username=”MyOwnBalance”]

Readers, have you ever tracked your steps?  What does a 10,000 step-a-day look like to you? 


By Brittany, September 14, 2016
  • 3
  • Nicole @ Foodie Loves Fitness
    September 14, 2016

    Good topic! I wore a Fitbit for years to track my steps. During the weekdays I found on average that, like you, I mostly get 8,000-9,000 steps in, and then on the weekend when I go for hikes and longer walks with my dog, I would easily reach my goal. But, I realized that whether I was wearing my Fitbit or not, I was still working out a lot, walking a lot, and leading a very active lifestyle… so I decided that counting steps wasn’t really necessary! I was finding myself doing the same thing as you, marching next to my bed at night to get those last 500 steps in, and some point I said, “This is kind of ridiculous!” I think that the step goal is great for people who need that motivation to move, who don’t regularly workout, who are trying to lose weight, etc. but for me, I’ve been doing a-okay without it šŸ™‚

  • Holly
    September 20, 2016

    I have tracked my steps in the past with a Fitbit. I stopped because I can fairly well estimate my steps if I think about it. Your are right, however! On days that I do an awesome job with Barre, Pilates, swimming, gardening, etc. I get minimized “credit” for my steps even though many would be hard pressed to keep up my pace on good days like described! No matter. I enjoy walks and all my workouts and active leisure times!

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