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How Many Steps Should I Be Taking a Day? Average Steps for Desk Workers

Do you have to spend hours at a desk every day? That doesn’t mean you can’t get your daily dose of healthy walking. Read on to find out how many steps per day you should take and get tips on how to achieve your walking goals.

Average Steps Per Day According to Age, Gender, and Location

When we are young, we take a lot of steps. Walking comes to us naturally. People under 18 years take 10,000 to 16,000 steps a day according to a 2011 study.

But as we become adults, our average steps per day tend to decrease. One study found that adults take on average 6,886 steps per day while another study found that adults take only 5,117 steps per day.

The average steps per day vary more in older adults, who according to a 2011 study, can take anywhere from 2,000 to 9,000 steps.

Do men walk more than women? It seems so. A pedometer-based study found that women walk around 4,912 steps a day while men walk around 5,340 steps per day. Other studies noted the same difference in children.

How many steps you take every day may also depend on where you live. For example, according to a 2018 study based on smartphone-measured physical activity, Canadians averaged 4,819 steps per day while Americans averaged 4,774.

By contrast, people in Germany averaged 5,205 daily steps, people in the United Kingdom averaged 5,444, and people in China averaged 6,189.

aerial photo of people walking

How Many Steps Should I Take a Day?

When it comes to counting your average daily steps, it’s important to factor in your current activity level. A desk job that takes most of your day increases your risk of having a sedentary lifestyle. By comparison, someone who works in retail or does deliveries may already get their healthy dose of daily steps.

So, How Many Steps a Day Is Healthy?

According to an influential research article, inactive adults should walk briskly for at least 30 minutes a day. The average brisk walking pace for a healthy adult is around 100 steps per minute. That adds up to 3,000 to 4,000 steps per day.

These are the minimum steps that you want to take in addition to the normal walking that you do on an average day. For example, if you normally walk 5,000 steps a day, you want to get in at the very least an extra 3,000 to 4,000 steps.

Brisk walking for 150 minutes every week can help prevent type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other chronic health conditions. It will also increase your endurance and make your leg muscles stronger. Walking can also ward off depression and improve your mood.

The bottom line: As a healthy adult, getting 10,000 steps a day or more seems best according to most sources. This will help you go from inactive to active and reap the health benefits of walking.

How Many Steps Should You Take a Day If You Are an Older Adult?

If you are an older adult, getting between 4,400 and 7,500 average steps per day can make you live longer according to a 2019 study. Ideally, you want to put in around 3,000 to 4,000 of these steps at a brisk walking pace to take advantage of the benefits of aerobic training.

How to Take More Steps Every Day

Even if you work at a desk, you can still get in a lot of steps every day. Here are some ways you can achieve this.

person in red shoes walking up blue metal stairs

Track Your Daily Steps

Use a pedometer or mobile phone app to track your daily steps if you don’t already. Becoming aware of how much you walk every day is the first step to walking more every day.

You also want to track your progress, which will help keep you motivated. Write down your daily step counts or use an app to log them.

Set a Daily and Weekly Steps Goal

Set small, achievable goals using weekly increments. For example, you can start with 10 minutes of brisk walking this week, then increase this to 15 minutes the next week, and so on.

You may find it easier to achieve your objectives if you simply get into the habit of walking more even if you don’t get in an extra 4,000 steps from day one.

Walk with Someone (or with Your Dog)

Having someone at your side as you log those extra steps can make everything easier and more enjoyable. Whether it’s a friend or a dog, it can take your mind off your “task” of walking. Before you know it, you may log in more steps than you expected.

Find a Nice Walking Route

Walk through a park, trail, or in a nice area if you can. Walking in a pleasant space can make everything more enjoyable.

Choose the Stairs Over the Elevator

Take the stairs. Going up and down the stairs adds to your daily step count and is good exercise for your leg muscles.

Walk More, Drive Less

Take public transport when you can. Walk to the supermarket. Park farther away from where you usually park. All these can make a difference.

The Wrap Up

How many steps a day you should walk to stay healthy depends on your current activity level. Aiming for 10,000 or more steps a day including 3,000 to 4,000 steps from a 30-minute brisk walk is ideal.

If you’re spending a lot of time at your desk, you may also not be getting enough rest for your eyes. Dry, tired eyes may be a sign of dry eye disease, a condition that is easy to manage once detected but which can cause long-term eye damage if neglected.

A quick, 3-minute dry eye test can tell you whether you have dry eye disease. Take the dry eye test now.