How Many Calories Does the Average Person Use Per Step?

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step," goes a Chinese saying quoted by Chairman Mao. And knowing the calories burned by a single step can help you translate pedometer readouts into a gauge of your overall activity.

A businessman is walking outside. (Image: Rayes/Digital Vision/Getty Images)


You'll burn one calorie for every 20 steps you burn, indicates the website of Shape Up America!, a nonprofit that attempts to combat obesity by promoting extensive walking. Shape Up America! encourages a goal of taking 10,000 steps per day to burn 500 calories, which equals a pound of fat over the course of a week.


Feature-rich pedometers will provide a calorie-burning estimate as well as number of steps and distance traveled; some even use GPS to calculate these figures. Actual calories burned will depend on whether you are walking on flat floor and ground or covering hills and varied terrain.


Use a pedometer to record your baseline level of activity. The McKinley Health Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign indicates that 2,500 steps or less per day is very inactive, up to 5,000 steps in inactive, 5,000 to 7,500 steps is moderately active, 7,501 to 10,000 steps is active and more than 10,000 is very active. To improve your calorie burn, try to add 2,000 steps, the equivalent of a mile in distance and 100 calories in energy expenditure, each day once you find your baseline number of steps.

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