How many steps should I be taking? How many steps do other people get each day? How many steps per day does the average American take?
Adults should aim to take 10,000 steps each day. For children and teenagers, The American College of Sports Medicine recommends 12,000 steps per day. Research published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise in 2004 showed a wide variation in the average step count of the 200 men and women who participated. The men surveyed averaged 7192 steps per day; women averaged 5210 steps each day.
Once you have a pedometer or fitness tracker, wear it for a few days to determine a baseline. Make a note of the average number of steps you are taking on a daily basis. For example, you walk 3,100 on Day #1, 2,800 on Day #2, and on Day #3 you walk 3,400 steps; the average of these days is 3,100 steps per day. This is your starting point- continue to aim for at least this many steps every day.
Start Setting Goals. Now that you have a starting point, you can start to create a short term goal. For example, you may want to add 1,000 steps to your daily count. You can do this by planning to walk for 10 minutes chunks of time throughout your day. Once you achieve your short term goal, create a new one!
Some ways to add more steps into your day include: taking the stairs, parking farther away, getting off the subway one stop earlier, walking during lunch, taking a lap around the office, taking the dog for a walk in the morning, walking with your spouse after dinner, or walking around the mall on cold/rainy days.
Set your long term goals. Think about setting long term fitness goals; your short term goals are the building blocks to help you achieve your long term goals. Continue to create small goals to help get you closer to your ultimate goal. Maybe you want to walk 5 miles every day. Maybe you want to get more than 10,000 steps. Maybe you want to complete a 5k walk/run (3.1 miles). Maybe you want to increase your walking speed. These are your goals… it’s up to you to set them!
Be sure to track your progress along the way. Some pedometers may have memory features, but for many you will need to record your total number of steps at the end of the day. Simply add it to your calendar or appointment book, create a computer document, or make a note for yourself in your cell phone. Choose what works best for you! Tracking your progress helps you meet your goals and lets you know when it’s time to set new ones.
The take home message is to get up and get moving! Increasing your daily physical activity will definitely benefit your weight loss goals, heart health, and ease of your activities of daily living. Utilizing a pedometer to track your daily activities can assist you in reaching your goals.