10,000 steps a day: Too low? Too high?

When you're counting your daily steps, are 10,000 enough for you — or maybe too many? Learn how walking can help improve your health and how to set the right goal.

By Mayo Clinic Staff
Thom Rieck

You've just gotten a new activity tracker and you're ready to aim for 10,000 steps a day. But is that an appropriate goal for you? It all depends on your present fitness level and what you want to accomplish.

The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, or roughly 1.5 to 2 miles. It's a good idea to find out how many steps a day you walk now, as your own baseline. Then you can work up toward the goal of 10,000 steps by aiming to add 1,000 extra steps a day every two weeks.

If you're already walking more than 10,000 steps a day, or if you're fairly active and trying to lose weight, you'll probably want to set your daily step goal higher.

Benefits of walking

Why set a daily step goal? Walking is a form of exercise that's available to most people. You don't need any special equipment other than some supportive walking shoes. And there's no need for an expensive membership at a fitness center.

Yet walking for regular activity can help reduce your risk of these common health problems:

  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Depression
June 23, 2017 See more In-depth