Walking a sufficient number of steps a day is essential not only to burn calories and lose weight but to maintain optimal health.
Interestingly, research suggests that counting the number of steps taken per day increases physical activity levels. (1,2)
There are many recommendations to maintain an ideal weight; some say that 6000 steps are enough, others recommend taking at least 8000, and some more demanding at least 10,000 steps per day.
This article describes the number of steps you have to take per day according to the WHO and what is the amount of calories that are expended when walking.
How many steps do you have to walk per day?
Official recommendations on how many steps to walk per day estimate 10,000, the equivalent of about 7-8 kilometers.
The recommendation to take 10,000 steps every day first appeared in the mid-1960s after the invention of the first electronic step counter. In fact, “10,000 steps” is the literal translation of the name of the first Japanese Manpo-Kei pedometer.
This number of steps is ideal for maintaining your perfect weight and a healthy lifestyle. Studies say that walking 10,000 steps a day not only burns calories and helps you lose weight. But it has other benefits: blood pressure drops and blood sugar levels normalize. (1,2)
Medical experts provided the recommendation as a representative figure for the number of steps to walk per day. An easy way to count the number of steps is to use a heart rate monitor.
WHO – recommendations and standards for the number of steps per day
The World Health Organization recommends walking about 10,000 steps a day. In their healthy lifestyle materials, they take this figure into account as the lower limit of an active lifestyle indicator¹.
According to the WHO, people can be classified according to the number of steps per day with a certain lifestyle. This organization takes the following number of steps as a reference:
- Less than 5000 – sedentary lifestyle
- 5000-7500 – low level of physical activity
- 7500-10000 – average physical activity
- 10000-12500 – active lifestyle
- 12,500+ – extremely active lifestyle
How many calories are burned when walking?
Although it must be taken into account that the number of calories burned varies depending on the intensity, pace, and walking technique. It can be said that an average adult can burn up to 300-350 calories per hour with a walk of 8000 steps.
When walking fast, the body expends approximately 60-80 calories per kilometer. However, at a slow pace, the number of calories can be reduced by up to half.
The calories burned by walking at a moderate pace are:
- 6000 steps – 300 calories
- 8000 steps – 400 calories
- 10,000 steps – 500 calories
Number of steps and calories
The calories burned when walking cannot be measured solely by the number of steps but by the intensity and the time in which it is walked.
Scientists tend to talk not only about counting the number of steps to walk per day but also about controlling the total time of physical activity.
The World Health Organization recommends walking or doing physical activity five or more times a week for at least 30 minutes. The equivalent of a total of at least 150 minutes per week¹.
If you are not sure how many steps you take per day, you can use a device and try to reach 10,000 steps per day. However, this is not necessary when a person leads an active life. In addition, if you want to lose weight, you should not expect results of burning calories in walking, but you complement it with healthy eating rules.
Benefits of walking 6000 steps a day
They are walking at least once a day brings health benefits. Current studies claim that older people who walk at least 6,000 steps a day are less likely to lose mobility than their inactive peers.
Every thousand steps added to this figure reduces the risk of loss of mobility and joint problems by an additional 16-18 percent. (2)
Regular walking at a fast pace makes your heart beat faster, which helps prevent cardiovascular disease. The supply of oxygen to the tissues improves the levels of bad cholesterol and prevents insulin resistance.
It has been confirmed that people who walk 8 to 10,000 steps per day have a lower risk of developing obesity and being overweight.
Even walking for 10 minutes a day has positive results in relieving anxiety symptoms. Some research has dared to compare the effect of aspirin compared to walking in the fresh air. The benefits of walking 6,000 steps a day are:
- Prevent type 2 diabetes
- Improve cholesterol levels
- Prevent depression
- Reduce muscle fatigue
- Lower body fat percentage
How to lose more calories when walking?
People who walk regularly have a lower percentage of body fat. However, when it comes to losing weight, it is best to combine a light walk with a slightly reduced-calorie diet.
Getting into the habit of walking 10,000 steps a day is an excellent way to maintain weight into adulthood. If, in addition, the walk is in the sun, you will lose calories and raise the levels of vitamin D in the body.
If you are sitting most of the day, these extra steps will help you lose weight. A sedentary lifestyle is the leading cause of several chronic diseases.
The best way to walk to lose weight is at a slightly slower speed than jogging. Ideally, keep up in the aerobic zone. For light physical activities (like walking); the ideal number of strokes to burn fat should be 50-60% of the FMC. 5
How many steps to walk per day? According to the WHO, to lead a healthy lifestyle, you must take at least 10,000 steps per day. Other research suggests that taking 6,000 to 8,000 degrees is enough to reap the benefits.
If counting the number of steps makes it difficult for you, you can take about 30 minutes of brisk walking per day. The calories burned when walking depends not only on the number of steps but on the technique and intensity. The idea is to always work in the aerobic zone to burn more calories.