Otautahi – How many steps should people take per day? For general fitness, most adults should aim for 10,000 steps per day. This figure may rise or fall depending on a person’s age, current fitness level, and health goals.
This recommendation comes from the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which says walking is an effective form of low impact exercise that can help people improve or maintain their physical fitness.
Walking is a form of low impact, moderate intensity exercise that has a range of health benefits and few risks. The CDC recommend that most adults aim for 10,000 steps per day. For most people, this is the equivalent of about eight kilometres.
As doctors generally consider fewer than 5000 steps per day to be sedentary, this means that many people are not getting as many steps as they should to benefit their health.
Walking can also help improve or prevent certain health conditions, such as obesity, osteoporosis, and age-related memory loss.
The benefits of walking appear to increase with step count. A 2020 study found that participants who took 8,000 steps per day had a 51 percent lower risk of dying by any cause compared with those who took 4,000 per day.
This trend continued with higher step counts, as participants who took 12,000 steps per day had a 65 percent lower risk of dying than those who took 4,000.
This finding suggests that the benefits of walking increase with step count but also shows that people who cannot reach 10,000 steps in a day can still benefit from the activity.
The number of steps to take for weight loss can vary depending on an individual’s current weight, food intake, and target weight. However, 10,000 steps is a good goal for most people.
Some evidence suggests that for weight loss, exercise intensity is also important.
A 2018 analysis of 363 people with obesity found that those who took 10,000 steps per day and spent at least 3500 of those steps engaged in moderate-to-vigorous activity lasting for bouts of 10 minutes or longer experienced enhanced weight loss.
Keeping up this level of activity helped participants maintain their weight loss until the 18-month follow-up.
The CDC says that children and adolescents aged six to 17 years should get at least 60 minutes of aerobic and strengthening exercise per day. A 2012 study estimated that this is equivalent to 11,290 to 12,512 steps.
Therefore, 12,000 steps may be a helpful goal for people in this age group. However, to meet the CDC recommendations, at least 1 hour of this activity would need to be of moderate-to-vigorous intensity.
Older adults can aim for a similar step count to younger adults. However, where this is not possible, a lower step count may still provide significant benefits.
A large 2019 study involving older females found that participants who walked 4400 steps per day had a lower mortality rate after 4.3 years than those who only took 2700 steps per day.