As wearable fitness trackers become increasingly popular, more people are taking a closer look at their daily steps. And it seems to be paying off.
According to the American Council on Exercise, people who track their steps take an average of 2,500 more steps per day than those who don’t.
If you’re one of the millions who participate in a quest to hit the commonly recommended 10,000 steps-a-day goal, your efforts won’t go unrewarded.
Regular activity, including walking, offers a number of health benefits, including a reduced risk of:
- heart disease and stroke
- high blood pressure
- certain cancers, including breast and colon cancer
But how many steps per day does the average person really take? And is it enough?
A 2011 review concluded that adults over the age of 18 take anywhere from 4,000 to 18,000 steps per day. Another 2011 review looked at children and adolescents. It found that those under 18 take anywhere from 10,000 to 16,000 steps per day. The authors noted that the number of daily steps drops significantly as teenagers approach age 18.
Age definitely seems to play a role in how much walking people are doing. Younger adults are also more likely to meet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for aerobic activity than older adults.
There appears to be a significant difference in the average number of steps taken by females and males. From childhood through adulthood, males tend to walk more. As children and teens, they walk an average of 12,000 to 16,000 steps per day. Young females, on the other hand, get 10,000 to 12,000.
This trend continues into adulthood, at least in the United States. A 2010 study looked at pedometer data for just over 1,000 adults. Overall, males took an average of 5,340 steps per day, compared to 4,912 for females.
What you do for a living may impact your average steps per day, too. Jenny Craig conducted a small research project in 2012 involving 10 participants from Australia, each with a different job. They were given pedometers to track their steps.
Here’s a breakdown of the average steps per day associated with 10 professions, from highest to lowest:
|Occupation||Average steps per day|
|Call center associate||6,618|
Keep in mind that this data wasn’t collected as part of a formal, controlled study. It only includes data for one person in each occupation and doesn’t account for important factors, such as sex or age.
Still, it’s an interesting snapshot of how much the average steps per day can vary from person to person.
People in certain countries tend to take more steps per day than those in other countries. A 2017 study tracked activity levels of 717,527 people in 111 countries over an average of 95 days using smartphones.
Here’s what the study found:
|Country||Average steps per day|
It’s not clear why the average number of steps per day varies from country to country. A range of factors likely play a role, including:
- obesity rates
- walkability of roads and sidewalks
The CDC recommends that adults, including older adults, get a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity, such as brisk walking, per week. A brisk pace translates to roughly 100 steps per minute. This means you’ll need to take 15,000 steps per week (a little over 2,000 steps per day) to meet the CDC’s minimum guidelines.
For more health benefits, the CDC recommends upping that goal to 300 minutes. This equals about 30,000 steps per week (just under 5,000 steps per day).
Remember, this refers to walking at a fast pace, one that leaves you at least slightly out of breath. Chances are this doesn’t apply to every step you take throughout your day, so 10,000 steps per day is still a good goal to work toward to ensure you’re getting enough. Just make sure a portion of those involve walking at a faster pace.
If you’re not sure how you can add more steps to your daily routine, try these tips:
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Park farther away from the door when running errands.
- Walk with a friend.
- Clean your house.
- Take a walk during breaks at work.
- Walk in the mall when the weather’s poor.