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How Many Steps Per Day to Lose Weight?

author image Dena McDowell
Dena McDowell started writing in 2001 with work published in the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel," "M Magazine," "Women and Cancer" magazine and online at The Diet Channel. She is a contributor to TOPS and TherapEase Cuisine. McDowell is a registered dietitian and holds a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin and a master's degree in nutrition and counseling from Mount Mary College.
How Many Steps Per Day to Lose Weight?
Walking up the office stairs. Photo Credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images

Daily exercise can help shed extra weight. While the President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition recommends a minimum of 150 minutes per week of moderate aerobic activity, 300 minutes per week are recommended when you're trying to lose weight. Including a daily walking program in your exercise routine is an effective method of losing weight.

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A Step in the Right Direction

Walking can be a part of a healthy weight loss program. The first step is to assess your current activity level. If exercise is not part of your regular routine, then start slowly. For those who exercise regularly, increase the amount of time or intensity to burn additional calories to promote weight loss. Walking faster or climbing stairs as a part of your routine increases the intensity of your walking program.

Walking and Activity Levels

Researchers at Arizona State University have established baseline activity levels based on the number of steps taken each day. People who take fewer than 5,000 steps are considered to be sedentary or inactive. Those who take 5,000 to 7,499 steps daily have a low active lifestyle. Somewhat active people usually take 7,500 to 9,999 steps per day. People considered to be active take 10,000 or more steps per day.

Walking for Weight Loss

About 10,000 steps is the equivalent of exercising strenuously for 30 minutes, or walking five miles per day. By following this routine, you'll expend an additional 2,000 to 3,500 calories per week. One pound of fat equals 3,500 calories. The average American takes 2,300 to 3,000 steps per day. This is a dismal rate compared to the Amish people, who take an average of 19,000 steps per day. The Amish community has the lowest percentage of obese adults compared with the American population at large.

Start Slow

While walking for one hour at a rate of 5 mph, or 10,000 steps, is recommended to lose an average of one pound a week, it may be an overwhelming goal. Start slow and assess your exercise tolerance. At the end of the day, if you only took 3,000 steps, aim to increase the amount to 3,500 the next day. Be creative in getting extra steps. Take a walk during your lunch break. Meet a friend and walk in the park or neighborhood.

The Pedometer: A Powerful Tool

A pedometer is a useful tool when trying to assess how many steps are taken each day. The pedometer can be calibrated to your walking stride. It clips easily to the waistband and is comfortable to wear. Wearing the pedometer daily may help in meeting daily step goals and ultimately aid in weight loss.

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