10,000 Steps A Day: A Fad Or An Important Goal? Discover If It’s Right For You

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Fitness, Wellness & Lifestyle | 0 comments

I remember when Fitbits were all the rage. Suddenly, everyone seemed obsessed with reaching a goal of 10,000 steps a day. I thought it was silly. Why 10,000 steps? I...

I remember when Fitbits were all the rage. Suddenly, everyone seemed obsessed with reaching a goal of 10,000 steps a day. I thought it was silly. Why 10,000 steps? I figured people could just prioritize exercise, be it lifting or doing cardio. To me, that would be enough. 

As Fitbits have faded away, should we also give up the ambition of hitting 10,000 steps a day? Is this cardio goal one we should set out to achieve? Or, was it some fad that we all should forget about?

Let’s take a closer look.



Why 10,000 steps?

It turns out that the 10,000 steps goal didn’t originate with the Fitbit. The goal came from one professor’s theory during the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.1 Professor Yoshiro Hatano studied how to fight obesity and theorized that walking 10,000 steps a day—equaling about five miles—would be the right amount to keep people healthy. Hatano developed the “Manpo-kei,” a pedometer-type device that motivated people to get up and move. The device was a huge hit since people were already thinking about health and fitness during the Olympic season.

Eventually, the U.S. and other countries got in on the excitement. They realized that 10,000 steps a day can allow someone to hit their necessary aerobic exercise. Aerobic exercise is crucial to taking care of cardiovascular health.2 It’s needed for controlling blood pressure and blood sugar. It helps manage weight and improves mental health. It also strengthens the immune system and boosts brain power. 

The official recommendation now is to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week or 75 minutes a week for more intense movement. If you divide 150 minutes into 30 minutes five days a week, you could hit about 7,000-8,000 steps at a brisk pace.3 So, you could argue that all you need is about that much a day.

Are 10,000 steps necessary, then? Truthfully, you’ll get a different answer from every health expert you ask. Here’s the thing, though. Most of us have become far too sedentary, so it’s good to make yourself move more throughout the day. We all need aerobic exercise daily, regardless of your fitness goals. Depending on your health goals, it’s up to you if you want to hit that many steps, but it is a good number to get the official cardio requirement and then some. It’s also a recommended step number for weight loss.4



The Power of Walking

The good news is that you don’t need to go on a run to get your cardio in. Walking is an excellent form of aerobic exercise. Fitness trainer Gina Florio recommends walking as a weight loss tool for her clients.5 Florio noted that high-intensity workouts are effective, but they’re not appealing to the everyday person who just wants to be healthier. She goes on to say that for people who are already stressed—which many of us are nowadays—high-intensity training can be counterproductive because it creates more stress. Higher-intensity workouts like running may burn more calories in a shorter time, but it’s harder on the body and stresses the heart.6

Even if weight loss isn’t your goal, walking is a simple yet effective way to take care of your health. Whatever your health goals are, it’s time to get walking!

Getting in your 10,000 steps

At this point, you might be wondering if lifting weights counts for aerobic exercise. The answer is: sorta. Generally speaking, cardio, like walking, swimming, running, biking, etc., counts as aerobic exercise. When you lift weights or sprint, you’re doing anaerobic exercise.7 This means you use energy from contracting muscles as opposed to oxygen, like when you’re walking. Yet, lifting weights can count toward cardio at the right intensity.8 For overall health, it’s recommended to have a mix of cardio and lifting.

Reaching a goal of 10,000 steps is much simpler than you think. Here are some ways you can mindfully walk more throughout your day.

Go on walks

This one’s a no-brainer, but it is the best way! Take a half hour of your day and go for a walk outside. Grab a buddy or two and make it a social event. Listen to your favorite podcast, catch up on an audiobook, or create a great playlist. Do whatever it is to make it an enjoyable part of your day!

Park farther away

It’s easy to want to nab the closest parking spot, especially if the weather outside isn’t ideal. But, if you park farther away, you’ll start adding up those steps. Your health will thank you for it!

Take the stairs instead of the elevator

We might groan when we hear this, but once you get in the habit of choosing the stairs over the elevator, your body will adapt, and you won’t even think about it. 



Move when you can

If you’re making phone calls for work, walk around instead of sitting. If you need to study or read something, take it with you to the treadmill. Get up and move around periodically if your job has you sitting down all day at a desk. If you can opt for movement, it’ll be much better for you!

Take multiple trips

Whenever we unload our car with groceries, it’s easy to want to grab as many bags as possible so that we don’t have to take as many trips. Instead, do the opposite and be less efficient! Take several trips in whatever you do.

Track your steps

One way to know how many steps you’re taking is to get some sort of step tracker. You could opt for something like an Apple Watch, but there are several free step-tracking apps that you could go for instead if you don’t want to make the purchase. Whatever you choose, you don’t need to hit 10,000 steps on day one. Take your time working up to that. As long as you move mindfully, you’ll be on your way to better health.


While Fitbits may have faded away, it doesn’t mean we have to end our goal of 10,000 steps. Cardio is important to our physical and mental health, and we don’t need to be a marathon runner to do it. It’s all about mindful and intentional movement to get the necessary steps.


Sydney Good

Sydney Good