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  • Writer's pictureJo Soria

Can’t Walk 10,000 Steps Per Day? Try This.

A 10,000-step daily walking plan is a classic go-to for kickstarting our fitness goals or boosting our overall health. But let's be honest: 10,000 steps equals about four or five miles, and people often feel discouraged if they don't have the time or stamina to hit that step count every day. Can shorter, lighter walking routines still provide noticeable health benefits? Doctors think so.

Woman walking dog; walk 10,000 steps per day

What Happens When We Walk 5,000 Steps?

If you're feeling overly fatigued or strapped for time, try cutting that 10,000-step goal in half. Depending on your stride length, 5,000 steps will still add about two to two and a half miles of walking to your day.

And, particularly if you've had a relatively sedentary routine or are recovering from illness or injury, those 5,000 steps can still significantly reduce your risk of dying from cardiovascular or other diseases.

Regular walking workouts can also benefit you by:

  • Improving your mood and lowering your stress and anxiety

  • Supporting your mobility and joint health

  • Supporting weight loss or management goals

  • Building muscle and endurance without high impact or joint stress

  • Helping you build up to, or recover from, other physical activities

Woman looking at plants; walk 10,000 steps

How to Squeeze in Those 10,000 Steps

The good news about a lower step goal is that it allows you the flexibility to incorporate steps into your everyday routines while still building stamina for higher step goals or more intense workout programs down the road.

There are classic hacks like parking farther away, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking the dog for a walk. Still, even old-fashioned in-person shopping versus buying everything online can be enough to tip the step count balance in your favor. Think of all the ways we've traded out moderate physical activity for convenience, and consider adding some of those activities back in.

Or, if you'd like to add a little extra challenge to your workout but don't want the heavy impact of running, try a new activity like rucking or pickleball.

Walking 10,000 Steps Counts

The main takeaway: if you're building a wellness routine from the ground up, don't be discouraged. "Adding 1,000 steps to your daily routine, which equals roughly 10 minutes of brisk walking, could reduce the risk of mortality by roughly 15 percent," says Thijs Eijsvogels, an associate professor of exercise physiology at the Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

“Additional increases in step count could further increase the health benefits. So, every step counts!"


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