Pedometer technology is booming with hundreds of gadgets and gizmos available to help track your steps and movement. Heck, your phone likely does it, too! But how many steps a day do you really need to take to lose weight — and is 10,000 steps a day really the best baseline?
When it comes to losing weight, the overarching concept is pretty basic. To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you are consuming. That's called a caloric deficit.
The most effective way to create a caloric deficit is through a combination of physical activity, like taking more steps a day, and healthy nutrition.
In terms of diet, nutritionist agree that lean protein, whole grains, vegetables and fruits are a great baseline to healthy eating. The number of calories you should be consuming for weight loss, however, depends on your age, your height, your weight and your activity level and the Office on Women's Health adds that no diet for an adult woman should be less than 800 calories per day.
But what about those steps? How many steps a day do you need to take to lose weight?
How Many Steps a Day to Lose Weight?
The number of steps you must take to lose a certain amount of weight varies based on your age, height, weight and activity level. But, in general, if you participate in more physical activity than you were before (without increasing your caloric intake), you will lose weight.
To burn calories, Harvard Health Publishing reports High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is one of the most efficient methods. HIIT involves short bursts of maximum effort followed by rest. A great example is sprinting. Sprint as fast as you can for 30 seconds and then walk for a minute before repeating. You can also try intervals of slow and fast walking. You might be surprised how hard it can be to walk so fast!
While HIIT training is the most effective method for burning calories fast, it's not the only way you can burn them. In fact, walking can be effective, as well — you'll just need to walk for longer amounts of time since walking isn't as intense. Just like other forms of exercise, though, walking improves cardiac risk factors like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness, inflammation and mental stress.
How Many Steps Does It Take to Lose a Pound?
So how many calories can you burn by increasing your daily step count? It depends on your size and your level of intensity. Harvard Health Publishing estimates that a 120-pound person burns 85 calories per mile; a 160-pound person burns 105 calories per mile; and a 200-pound person burns 125 calories per mile walking. You can see how these numbers would start adding up when you walk longer distances.
10,000 steps equates to approximately 4.5 to 5 miles per day, and approximately 425 calories burned for a 120-pound person; 525 calories burned for a 160-pound person; and 625 calories burned for a 200-pound person.
A pound of fat contains roughly 3,500 calories, and while burning 3,500 calories doesn't necessarily equate to a pound of fat lost, such estimates can help you get an idea of how many steps it takes to lose a pound. For example, if you burn an extra 500 calories a day with your increased step count, you can burn (roughly) a pound per week.
Of course, that's if you don't factor in a reduced-calorie diet to your weight-loss plan.
How Many Steps is Considered Active?
The average person walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day, according to the Mayo Clinic. That works out to walking roughly 1.5 to 2 miles per day.
While there's no magic number to how many daily steps you need to take to "be active," increasing your step count is a great way to increase your overall activity levels. Take notice of how many steps a day you currently take, and then gradually increase from there. Whether you increase to 5,000 steps or 10,000 steps a day, getting moving will help you reach your weight loss goals.
Tips to Increase Your Daily Steps
As mentioned above, the first step (pun intended) to increasing your daily steps is to determine your current daily step count. Check out these best fitness trackers to find out. Then, set daily step goals for yourself. A tracker is a simple way to bot count your steps and help you stay accountable.
So, besides putting one foot in front of the other, how can you start moving toward your goals? Try joining the LIVESTRONG.com 10,000-Steps-a-Day Walking Challenge. It's packed with an entire month of expert workouts and motivation to help you get to 10,000 steps a day.
"Going for a walk" isn't the only way to increase your daily steps! Check out these 35 creative ways to take more steps throughout your day!
- Office on Women's Health: "Weight Loss and Women"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Interval training: More Workout in Less Time (and you can do it)"
- American Heart Association: "Why is Walking the Most Popular Form of Exercise?"
- Harvard Health Publishing: "Walking: Your Steps to Health"
- Mayo Clinic: "10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high?"