Walking with purpose: how many steps should you take in a day?

October 2023
10,000 steps a day is very often sold as ‘the golden number’ or gold standard when it comes to fitness. Fitness tracking devices recommend we take 10,000 steps a day to keep healthy and fit. But did you know that the goal of taking 10,000 steps, which is about 8 kilometres, or 5 miles, is not actually rooted in science, but rather in marketing? 

In an attempt to capitalise on the popularity of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, a Japanese health science professor invented a pedometer, named Manpo-Kei, which translates as 10,000-step meter. But there was no actual research behind the 10,000 number other than it sounded good. That number has stuck ever since. 

So do you really need to walk 10,000 steps a day in order to stay fit? The short answer is no. According to experts, you can get similar health-boosting results from hitting around 8,000 steps a day instead, because the benefits start to plateau after that. While walking is great for your health, research suggests 6,000 to 8,000 steps might be a better goal, and anything more than 8,000 doesn’t actually count in terms of health benefits.

The key is to get moving. Health experts recommend you make small lifestyle changes to get more steps in. Here are some easy ways to add more movement to your day. 

  • Set aside 30 minutes each day for a lunchtime walk or try taking three short, 10-minutes walks. 
  • Walk on the spot, or around the house, while waiting for the kettle to boil.
  • Have phone meetings while you walk.
  • Get off public transport a stop early. 
  • Park further away so you have longer to walk.
  • Schedule a time to walk every week with friends, family, or your neighbours.
  • Meet with friends for a walk rather than in a cafe or bar.
  • Take the stairs instead of using the lift.
  • Find several opportunities during the day to get up, get outside, and move around. 
  • Use the free step-tracking app on your phone to see how you’re progressing each day.

As there's no definitive answer to how many steps you should take each day, it’s more about finding a target that works for your body and lifestyle. To figure out your step goal, start by counting how many steps you take in the average week. Then increase your step count every week by 500. Continue increasing your daily steps until you’re in the range of 6,000 to 8,000.

Experts agree that regular walking can have benefits for both the body and mind. Walking can reduce risks of dementia, cancer, and heart disease. The good news is, you don't necessarily have to hit that 10,000 steps goal to get those benefits - and any number of steps is better than none.


At Allianz Partners, our mission is to keep you well. Whether you need help, advice or support, our Helpline is here for you 24/7. Contact us today.