How many steps a day to lose weight?
LAST UPDATED: Sep 20, 2023
3 MIN READ
HERE'S WHAT WE'LL COVER
Gentle movements like walking can help you lose weight, depending on your activity and fitness level. You may see the most benefit from upping your daily step count if you’re mostly physically inactive and spend the majority of your time sitting. If you want to add steps to your daily routine to drop a few pounds, here’s what you need to know.
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How many steps should you take a day?
Generally speaking, the more steps you can get in your average day, the better. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that adults get 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week—either all at once or 30 minutes a day, five days a week. That’s hard to break down into a step goal, but a 30-minute brisk walk is roughly 3,000 steps.
Still, more than that might be needed to slim down. When reaping the most health benefits from walking—including weight loss—you’ll often hear about 10,000 steps as a goal to aim for. But why 10,000 steps? That much-repeated 10,000 steps a day count has been shown to help with several health improvements like lower cholesterol, improved flexibility, and even a greater sense of personal growth.
It’s hard to put 10,000 steps into context, so let us do it for you:
How long does it take to walk 10,000 steps? That depends on your speed, but it’s slightly over 90 minutes of walking at a moderate pace.
How far is 10,000 steps? Approximately five miles.
Does walking 10,000 steps a day help you lose weight?
The exact number of steps that lead to weight loss in a person will depend on age, gender, diet, and other factors, like muscle mass or fitness level. But generally, logging 10,000 steps a day can help you lose weight, especially if you’re mostly sedentary. Overweight and obese participants in one small study lost about five pounds when they logged 10,000 average steps per day for 36 weeks. Increasing your daily steps to this level may help you lose some weight, but you may need to increase your activity further depending on how much weight you want to lose.
If you’re currently walking 10,000 steps a day and not losing weight, something needs to change to move the needle on the scale. You could add different workouts, walk more, or cut your calories by choosing healthier foods. You could also try switching some of those 10,000 steps to a faster pace using high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or jogging.
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How many steps a day to lose weight?
There’s no magic number for a step goal for weight loss, but increasing your daily movement can help move you in the right direction. Instead of jumping right to 10,000 steps, it might be more sustainable to consider your current fitness level. Try increasing your steps gradually so you can acclimate to more movement and accommodate the changes in your routine. If you can make 10,000 steps fit into your daily schedule, studies have shown that step count can lead to modest weight loss, as described above.
To lose weight faster, you’ll probably need to add other forms of exercise into your routine. Losing between 1-2 pounds per week is considered a safe rate for weight loss that makes it easier to maintain in the long run. One study found that people who lose weight slower also have better body composition (more muscle and less body fat) than those who lose weight faster.
Ultimately, the number of steps you choose to incorporate along with diet and potentially other activities needs to be consistent and sustainable for you in the long term. A fitness tracker with a pedometer can make it easier to log and track that physical activity so that you reap the benefits of walking and progress toward your weight loss goals.
If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-a). (2022). How much physical activity do adults need? Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/basics/adults/
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC-b). (2022). Losing weight. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/losing_weight/index.html
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Schneider, P. L., Bassett, D. R., Thompson, D. L., et al. (2006). Effects of a 10,000 steps per day goal in overweight adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 21(2), 85–89. doi:10.4278/0890-1171-21.2.85. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.4278/0890-1171-21.2.85
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