How many steps per day is enough?

A lot of people would know the answer already, generally speaking its 10,000 steps a day. However, where does this number come from? Does it mean we will be healthier if we achieve this every day?

The 10,000 steps concept was first started in Japan back in 1960s being introduced by Dr Yoshiro Hatano. He observed that an average person walked about 3500-5000 steps per day and he believed that if this increases to 10,000 steps there would be more healthier people (Why 10000 steps a day). Since then 10,000 steps per day concept have become more and more widely accepted and being used as a norm in researches.

According to the Australian Government’s Physical Activity guidelines to maintain health and reduce risk of health issues, it is recommended to perform 30 minutes of daily moderate intensity exercises or an accumulate of 150 to 300 minutes moderate intensity exercises per week (Physical activity – it’s important, 2015). When translating steps count per day to exercise intensity, a recent research suggested that 8000 steps per day is about the same as 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercises, and an accumulation of  7000 steps per day is equivalent to 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercises (Tudor-Locke et al. 2011). So here we go, we can be about 2000-3000 steps per day short to still achieve the baseline – if that’s all you want.

However, how active are Australians? Statistics can be scary but it tells the truth. According to the most recent data, Australian Health Survey 2011-2012, 60% of Australian adults performed less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity and almost 70% of Australian adults are either inactive or sedentary. Australian adults spend an average of 39 hours per week in sitting (including work). Of all the sedentary activities, watching TV is the most popular one which account for 13 hours per week in adults, whereas using computer make up for 9 hours per week in younger people……and this list can go on and on. In the related pedometer study, less than 20% of the Australian adults achieved 10,000 steps a day and the average steps recorded was only 7,400.

The lack of physical activities has been shown to be related to increase risk of having heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancers etc. Obviously, walking is a simply and practical way to increase your physical activities. In fact, walking has been adopted as a simple form of exercises worldwide and being promoted by organisation such as American Heart Association and Heart Foundation. It was found that taking 10,000 steps per day is effective in decreasing blood pressure, improving exercise capacity and lowering sympathetic nerve activity in high blood pressure patients (Iwane et al., 2000). On top of disease prevention, research has shown that by consistently reaching the goal of 10,000 steps per day, for overweight or obese population over a period of 36 weeks, there was a significant improvement in health including loss of body fat by 1.9 %, fat mass by 2.7kg, waist circumference by 1.8cm and hip circumference by 1.9cm (Schneider et al., 2006).

We all like round numbers. 10,000 steps per day might be just a belief at the beginning, yet benefits have been proven. There is no doubt that taking 10,000 steps a day is one of the easiest, achievable goal to maintain a healthy body. Maybe if you have been sitting in front of the computer reading this blog, it’s time to take a break and go for a walk……


Whether your goal is to walk 10,000 steps or complete an Ironman, the team at Thornleigh Performance Physiotherapy are switched on to help make your dreams reality.  Stop by and see how we can help!



  1. Choi, B.C.K., Pak, A.W.P., Choi, J.C.L. & Choi, E.C.L. (2007) Daily step goal of 10,000 steps: A literature review. Clin Invest Med, 30(3),E146-E151.
  2. Iwane, M. et al (2000) Walking 10,000 steps/day or more reduces blood pressure and sympathetic nerve activity in mild essential hypertension. Hypertens Res, 23(6), 573-580.
  3. Physical activity – it’s important (2015)
  4. Research and Statistics (2014)
  5. Schneider, P.L., Bassett Jr,  D.R., Thompson, D.L., Pronk, N.P., & Bielak, K.M. (2006) Effects of a 10,000 Steps per Day Goal in Overwight Adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 21(2), 85-89.
  6. Tudor-Locke, C., Leonardi,  C., Johnson, W.D., Katzmarzyk, P.T., & Church, T.S. (2011) Accelerometer steps/day translation of moderate to vigorous activity. Preventive Medicine, 53(1-2),31-33
  7. Why 10000 steps a Day