Unless you have been living under a rock, you have heard that we all should aim to walk 10,000 steps a day. If you are on a weight loss journey, like me, I am sure you are wondering is 10,000 steps a day good for weight loss.
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Before we continue, I feel that it is necessary to talk about the origin of where the 10K steps a day recommendation came from to help you get a better understanding of this topic.
Origin of 10,000 steps a Day
Most people believe that the magic number of 10,000 steps a day started with the medical profession or health and fitness research. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
In fact, in 1964 a Japanese company launched a pedometer called Manpo-Kei which translates to 10,000 steps. The device took off in Japan and now fast forward to more recent times and it seems like 100,000 steps are the gold standard of health and fitness.
Now there are so many of us with smartwatches or apps on our phones who are counting steps daily and hope to reach that magical number of 10,00 a day.
Basically, a marketing gimmick evolved into a health and fitness recommendation. In some ways, it continues to be a marketing tool with brands like Fitbit and many personal trainers. But is 10,000 steps a day good for weight loss?
Research on 10,000 Steps a Day
The research on 10K steps a day for weight loss is mixed. But it appears there is no need to walk 10,000 steps a day.
One study found that “some benefit can come from even just 7,500 steps. But (there is always a but), to prevent weight gain “no amount of steps alone will do the trick.” In other words, simply getting more steps and not changing your diet is not enough.
Another study at Harvard University found that women who averaged 4,400 steps daily reduced their mortality rate by 41%. The mortality rate improved with more steps before leveling off at 7,500.
The Harvard researchers reported that the average American walks 4,000- 5,000 steps a day. And their recommendation is to aim to walk 2,000 more steps than your baseline. Therefore, depending on your goals, 7,500 or fewer steps daily may meet your health and fitness goals.
A new study at Brigham Young University investigated whether increased steps, over 10,000 a day, would minimize weight gain and fat gain in college freshmen students. The researchers wanted to see if the higher daily step count prevent the freshmen 10.
In spite of taking as many as 15,000 steps daily, study participants gained around 3.5 pounds, similar to the average weight gain of first-year college students. The lead author Bruce Bailey, professor of exercise science concluded that tracking steps might increase physical activity but it will not maintain weight or prevent weight gain.
This step-counting experiment is a great reminder that weight loss programs must include more than counting steps and exercise goals. You have to change your diet, eat healthy nutritious foods, avoid junk food, and have a calorie deficit.
Also read Best 5 Foods for Permanent Weight Loss
To lose weight, you must have a calorie deficit. This means that the number of calories you burn must be more than the number of calories you eat.. One pound is roughly equivalent to 3,500 calories. Therefore, to lose one pound a week or 7 days you should have a calorie deficit of approximately 500 calories a day.
Can you burn 500 calories simply by getting 10,000 daily steps? Maybe. The answer is maybe since we all have different metabolism rates. Your metabolism rate depends on several factors including your age, gender, muscle to fat ratio, activity levels, and hormones.
To lose weight you basically have to eat less and move more. So if you are a sedentary, couch potato moving more will help you burn more calories and lose weight. The good news is that walking is a great daily activity and has a number of health benefits.
You can track how far you walked, how long you walked, or minutes of exercise. Or you can also simply count your steps. Counting your steps is a very easy way to see how much or how active you are. And you can see how much better you are getting with even just 100 more steps than yesterday.
However, walking or getting more steps is not the only way effective way to get more physically active. For instance, other types of aerobic exercise like cycling and swimming will help you lose weight, increase your calorie burn and help you adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Furthermore, you may not need 10,000 steps a day. You may be able to meet your daily and weekly weight loss goals with fewer steps.
Depending on your weight loss and fitness goals, you may want to include cardiovascular exercise or cardio weekly. Basically, cardiovascular exercise is the type of exercise that increases your heart rate and burns fat and calories. It tends to be rhythmic like walking, running, biking, swimming, rowing, skipping, and so on.
Experts recommend that you need at least 300 minutes of moderate exercise if your goal is to lose weight or avoid weight gain. Going for a daily walk or having a step goal is a great way to improve your fitness level and help you lose weight.
So is 10,000 steps a day good for weight loss?
Is walking 10,000 steps daily good for weight loss?
There are many dangers of sitting too much and living a sedentary lifestyle. The good news is that walking is a great daily activity and has a number of health benefits. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits of walking include:
- Maintain a healthy weight and lose body fat
- Prevent or manage various conditions, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, cancer, and type 2 diabetes
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Strengthen your bones and muscles
- Improve muscle endurance
- Increase energy levels
- Improve your mood, cognition, memory, and sleep
- Improve your balance and coordination
- Strengthen the immune system
- Reduce stress and tension
However, is walking 10,000 steps daily good for weight loss? The answer is walking is good for weight loss. Getting more steps is also good for weight loss. But you probably only need to aim for 7,500 steps daily. If you are interested in counting your steps you can use a Fitbit, Apple watch, and other smartwatches, step counters, and fitness trackers. There are also many apps that you can have on your mobile phone.
Most importantly, you must have a calorie deficit to lose weight. A successful weight loss program must include healthy food and more physical activity. For exercise, you can choose to do what you like best. Brisk walking, counting steps, dancing, swimming, cycling, or any form of exercise, whatever it takes to get you moving.