Walking regularly has several benefits. It’s a cost-effective and easy form of physical activity; moreover, taking adequate steps each day could benefit the health by reducing the risk of depression, aiding in weight management, and improving bone health, brain health, and overall quality life.
Of late, walking 10,000 steps daily has become a universal recommendation used to promote daily physical activity.
But you may be surprised why exactly 10,000 steps are suggested and whether this guideline can help you reach the fitness goals . This article takes a closer look at everyday step recommendations and how many calories we burn by taking 10,000 steps.
Walking 10,000 steps is equal to walking 5 miles. Whether or not this is perfect for you depends on your stride length . Individuals with shorter strides won’t get as far in those 2,000 steps as individuals with longer strides.
How far you’ll get isn’t as much of a worry as how many calories you’ll burn. But the most precise estimates for calorie burn use distance to determine total calorie burn per mile walked at various speeds. To find out how many calories we’ll burn through walking 10,000 steps, we can use our distance plus our pace and body weight .
A quicker pace increases the intensity of the activity, which is the main factor affecting calorie burn. The higher the intensity of our activity, the higher our heart rate gets. A higher heart rate equates to greater calorie burn.
Perhaps curiously, it’s not easy to measure exactly how many calories we burn by taking 10,000 steps. In fact, every individual likely burns a different number of calories every time they take those steps because the number of calories they burn through physical activity is affected by several factors .
It has long been perceived that one of the major factors affecting how many calories we burn during physical activity is weight and body size. Because it takes higher energy to move a greater body than it does to move a lighter body, the theory is that more calories are burned during a larger body movement.
However, emerging research is indicating that after adjusting for body weight, the number of calories burned through physical activity in individuals with a higher body weight might not be higher after all. Therefore, more studies are needed to figure out how weight influences the number of calories burned while taking steps.
[Read: Walking for Weight Loss]
Other elements that could influence how many calories we burn by taking 10,000 steps are how quickly we move and on what type of surface. For instance, if we’re walking briskly uphill at a pace of 8 kilometers (5 miles) per hour, we could be burning more than 7 calories per minute.
On the other end, if we’re walking leisurely downhill at a rate of 5–6 kilometers (3–4 miles) per hour, we might be burning between 3.5 and 7 calories per minute.
Research in young adults noticed that walking 10,000 steps at a pace of 6 kilometers (4 miles) per hour would burn an average of 153 calories more than walking the same distance at 3 kilometers (2 miles) per hour.
An often neglected factor that contributes to how many calories we burn is genetics.
One research measured the calories burned during physical activity in eight sets of twins for two weeks and confirmed that genetic differences were responsible for as much as 72% of the variance in calories burned during physical activity in everyday life.
Plus, research in rats found that high-capacity and constantly active runners transmitted higher heat in the muscles during physical activity, contributing to more calories burned than low-capacity runners that were less active.
Still, some of the studies on this topic are of an earlier date, and more current studies are required to know how genetics influence how many calories we burn.
With that in mind, our goal should be to get our steps in during dedicated periods of exercise, where we aim to increase our heart rate.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should get at least seventy-five minutes of vigorous exercise or one hundred and fifty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly for weight maintenance and overall health benefits.
Brisk walking on comparatively flat surfaces qualifies as moderate-intensity exercise, as long as we walk quick enough so that our breath quickens and we break into a light sweat after about 15 minutes. During moderate-intensity exercise, we can have a conversation, but we wouldn’t be able to sing.
Take those 10,000 steps on an uphill hike in the mountains or in a hilly part of town, and your walk may qualify as vigorous exercise. Our breath is rapid and deep at a vigorous pace, we break into a sweat quite rapidly, and it isn’t simple to speak more than a few words without needing to pause for air.
We may also get some steps in walking around the gymnasium while we lift weights because the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) also recommends total-body strength training at least 2 times each week.
Taking 10,000 steps each day can help you get the recommended half an hour of physical exercise at least five days per week. Yet, taking 10,000 steps every day may not be realistic for all. Moreover, fewer steps can still improve health.
The number of calories that we burn by taking 10,000 steps varies from individual to individual — and even day to day — as factors like genetics, body weight, and walking speed could decrease or increase the number of calories burned.
To estimate how many calories we have burned, we should use an equation that considers our walking intensity, body weight, and the time it took us to complete the 10,000 steps. All in all, walking regularly can offer several health benefits — whether we walk 10,000 steps or fewer.