Myth 10,000 steps: how to lose weight while walking


  • It is now considered a magical fitness mark: 10,000 steps a day.
  • To lose weight, it is only enough under certain conditions – the number of steps is not a guarantee of weight loss.
  • Most people burn between 300 and 400 calories walking 10,000 steps.

The 10,000 Step Myth: This has long since become a worldwide fitness goal. The task is as simple as it is banal. You need to take at least 10,000 steps a day to give your body enough exercise.

Thomas Hirai is Medical Director of the Center for Obesity and Metabolic Diseases at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, California. In an interview with Business Insider, he explains that the idea for the 10,000-step bar originated in 1965. At the time, a Japanese company developed a pedometer called “Manpo-kei”, which translates to ” 10,000 step counter. “The overall goal of 10,000 steps was achieved because it was catchy and easy to remember. Plus, it was above the average number of steps most people take per day,” says the doctor. . “It was a challenge, but still a realistic daily goal for the majority of people.”

If you want to lose weight, the number of daily steps is only one aspect among others. When it comes to losing weight, the most important thing is to create a calorie deficit. This means you need to burn more calories than you take in. Calories can be burned in different ways: through a wide variety of sports, but also during a walk. In this article, you will learn how to measure your calorie consumption while walking. 10,000 steps a day can help you reach your goal weight. But beware: this is not a guarantee of weight loss.

How many calories do you burn walking 10,000 steps?

Most people burn 30-40 calories for every 1000 steps they walk. Extrapolated to 10,000 steps, that means you’re burning between 300 and 400 calories. The exact number of calories burned varies from person to person. Not all bodies burn the same number of calories doing similar movements. “The calorie burn rate can vary greatly,” says expert Hirai. Your weight, the length of your steps, but also your physical condition influence your calorie consumption. External conditions such as the slope of the terrain or running speed also have an influence on consumption.

To get an individual estimate of calorie expenditure, Hirai recommends the method of measurement called the Metabolic Equivalent (MET). It is used to compare a person’s energy expenditure in different activities. Brisk walking at a speed of about five kilometers per hour corresponds to a MET of about 3.5. If you’re running uphill, the MET can go up to six. To calculate the calories burned with the MET, you can use the following equation:

0.0175 x MET x weight (in kilograms) = energy expenditure (in calories per minute)

For example, a 150-pound person walking on a flat surface at a speed of three miles per hour with an MET of about 3.5 would burn just under four calories per minute. At the same speed, it would take a person about 100 minutes to walk 10,000 steps (a total of about five miles). This would give him a calorie burn of around 400.

Most people today use apps or smart watches to calculate their steps and calorie consumption. For a more accurate picture, however, it is useful to compare the values ​​of the apps or smartwatches used with the calculated result of the formula above. “It is important not to rely solely on technical figures. It’s easy to overestimate or underestimate calories consumed or burned,” says Hirai. “Nevertheless, they are useful as they can help you track your progress and ensure consistency.”

According to the expert, 10,000 steps is a good daily goal. However, he also points out that the key to maintaining a target weight and a healthy lifestyle is regular exercise. The US health agency, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommends 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise per week, including walking.

Can 10,000 steps a day help you reach your goal weight?

Most people need to be in a calorie deficit of about 500 calories a day to lose about half a pound a week. People looking to lose or maintain weight should get at least 150 to 200 minutes of exercise per week, Hirai says. 10,000 steps a day can help achieve this goal. A 2018 study found that people who participated in a weight loss program who walked 10,000 steps per day lost more weight than those who walked only 3,500 steps per day.

Nevertheless, other components are also important in weight loss. Thomas Hirai insists on the importance of a healthy diet if you want to lose weight. “Weight loss through exercise is much more effective when combined with a diet strategy,” he says.

Is 10,000 steps a day a safe exercise method?

Walking is considered one of the easiest and safest ways to get around. However, if you are not currently exercising or have not exercised in a long time, jumping to 10,000 steps per day may be too high. You could potentially injure yourself, warns Hirai. “It helps to increase the number of steps you take each day and to stay as active as possible. But at the same time, avoiding injury is just as important if you want to lose weight in a healthy way over the long term,” says -he.

People with severe obesity, the elderly and people with other health conditions should be especially careful. Hirai recommends gradually increasing your step count, adding an additional 1,000 steps per day each week until you reach your individual goal. If the goal has been achieved consistently over a period of time, walking can be replaced with an activity with a higher MET, such as jogging or swimming, to burn more calories, Hirai said.

Research shows that taking more steps per day can reduce death rates from any cause. However, the positive effect of more steps stagnates at 7,500 steps per day. Beyond that, according to the researchers, there is no additional benefit.

Our insider tip

The recommendation to walk 10,000 steps a day is a marketing slogan, not a scientific discovery. Nevertheless, scientific results have shown that more exercise, which can be measured, among other things, by the number of steps taken, is important for individual health.

Overall, however, an active and healthy lifestyle is the best way to lose weight permanently, according to Thomas Hirai. Taking on the challenge of reaching 10,000 steps a day could be one of them. But he also points out that it doesn’t have to work. Any movement routine you do regularly is a good choice, he says. “In reality, there is simply no magic number that will get you there.”

read also

Forget 10,000 steps – scientists say you should take that many a day

This article was translated from English and edited by Julia Knopf. You can read the original here.

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