"Getting your steps in" has become a common fitness goal for people of all ages. It implies that 10,000 steps a day are what you're working toward -- but is that really a good goal for everybody?

The short answer is no. While 10,000 steps a day is an admirable goal, some people can still get fit with significantly less.

Who thought up 10,000 steps a day?

For something that is so widely used, the goal of 10,000 steps a day has a pretty simple origin story. UC Davis cites the popularity of Japanese pedometers in the 1960s. They were called manpo-kei, which translates in English to "10,000 steps meter." That's it!

lady walking with yellow background

How should you determine your daily walking goal?

According to the Mayo Clinic, most Americans already walk about 1.5-2 miles per day (3,000-4,000 steps). They suggest you track a regular day's step count for a few days to determine your average and increase it incrementally by 1,000 extra steps every two weeks.

This means that someone who is on the sedentary side may not be able to do 10,000 steps, and that's okay. On the flip side, someone who is very active may need to do thousands more than 10,000 steps to reach their fitness goals.

walking, sneakers

How can you get more steps in on a regular day?

The Cleveland Clinic has some great tips on getting in thousands of steps a day:

  • Park farther away when you're running errands. This one is tough, I know, but what about parking at the farthest cart return? Convenient AND better for you!
  • Use the bathroom farthest from your office or desk. As a variation of this, get up every 30 minutes or so to make a copy, get a drink of water, or just walk around in general.
  • Use part of your lunch or break to take a walk. It doesn't have to be a long walk -- even 10-20 minutes of walking above your baseline of steps helps.


One thing I've learned on my own fitness journey is that you have to be kind to yourself. Don't obsess over your step count every single day; just do the best you can and chart your progress.

*All of the photos in this article are courtesy of Unsplash.

Do you do 10,000 steps a day? What tips do you have to make sure you reach your goal? Let us know in the comments below!

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