5 June 12 Seriously? You want me to walk how many steps per day?

Did you know that the current recommendation for fitness, heart health, and weight control is to walk a whopping 10,000 steps most days of the week? If you think that is no big deal, then think again. Unless you have tracked steps using a pedometer, you probably have no idea how many steps you take in a day. On average, 2000 steps is about a mile so walking 10,000 steps means walking about 5 miles.

10,000 Steps

How long will it take you to walk 10,000 steps? Most of us walk briskly at about 3.5 miles per hour which takes about 17 minutes per mile or about 85 minutes for 5 miles. The faster your pace (MPH), the faster you can walk the 5 miles. If you walk at a pace of 4 MPH, then you will take 15 minutes to walk one mile or 11/4 hours to walk 5 miles. If you walk 5 MPH (which is a jog for most folks), then it will take 12 minutes to walk one mile or 1 hour to walk 5 miles.

Some websites equate walking 10,000 steps with only 30 minutes of walking. Nope. That isn't possible. You would have to sustain a 10 MPH pace to cover 5 miles in 30 minutes!

What is Your Goal?

For overall chronic disease risk reduction and Type 2 diabetes management, the goal is 150 minutes per week or about 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week. That would be about 3500 - 4000 steps for someone who can walk at a pace of 3.5 - 4 MPH.

If you are truly sedentary now (e.g. you get 2000 or fewer total steps per day, including exercise), then don't aim to walk 10,000 steps tomorrow. Work up to that in 500 step increments over time. If you like books, consider reading "The Step Diet" by James Hill, John Peters, and Bonnie Jortberg. They explain how to control weight by tracking steps, starting with the cessation of weight gain by walking an extra 2000 steps (1 mile) from one's current baseline.

Being Busy Doesn't Mean You Are Active!

Do not assume you accrue a lot of steps because you are busy or care for young children. Wear a pedometer to discover your true activity level. For MyNetDiary users, use "sedentary" activity level if your activities of daily living average between 2000 – 3000 steps or fewer. Only log exercise above and beyond what is already included in your overall activity level to avoid double-counting exercise calories. For instance, if your total steps for the day is 2000 or fewer, then it is likely that you do not need to log exercise for that day since your sedentary activity level already covers it. However, if you engage in an activity that the pedometer can't count properly (e.g. swimming, bicycling, etc), then do log that.

Steps as an Incentive to Move More

If you track calories, then you are already aware of where you stand in terms of calories in vs. calories out. However, as someone who has been tracking calories for years now, I can attest to the benefit of tracking steps as well. It is very motivating to watch the steps tick upwards as the day progresses. The pedometer motivates me to move more – regardless of my exercise plan. And all of those recommendations to park further away, get up and move during TV commercials, etc. all make more sense within the context of steps.

MyNetDiary members, you can track daily steps in the "Measurement" section, similar to how you might track number of hours of sleep or your waist size. To account for calories burned, you can log walking or jogging by time or by distance. Most pedometers have a distance converter.

Katherine Isacks, MPS, RD, CDE
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Exercise/Walking & Steps

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