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How To Increase Steps Per Day

Written by 
Lacey Ramburger
Reviewed by 
Emanuel Singleton, NP

Article at a glance

  • On average, adults, including those over 65, achieve about 2,000–9,000 steps daily.

  • Adults who consistently achieve a step count closer to CDC guidelines have been shown to have increased mood, reduced stress, and minimized symptoms of chronic illness.

  • Plenty of simple, creative ways exist to increase a person’s step count.

How Many Steps Should You Take In a Day?

The amount of steps a person should take in a day often depends on a few factors, such as age and mobility. The CDC recommends that the average number of steps a person should take to see health benefits improve is approximately 10,000 steps a day.

However, older adults who struggle with mobility or disability may not be able to achieve this step count level consistently. A study published in 2011 suggested that healthy older adults often took between 2,000 and 9,000 steps per day as part of their physical activity.

Reasons Why You Should Increase Your Step Count

Why is the amount of steps a person takes so important? While we know staying physically active is an essential part of healthy living, there are a few benefits to increasing step counts, especially in older adults.

Help With Weight Loss

For those trying to lose weight, it makes sense to increase your step count. On average, taking approximately 8,600 steps daily will help prevent weight gain in adults. If you want to lose weight, increasing your steps can help you achieve that goal. It’s important to note that age, gender, and diet will also play a role in exactly how many steps will lead to losing weight but setting a goal of 10,000 steps is a good starting place.

Boost Physical Activity & Health

Physical activity is highly advised for all ages, particularly adults trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The CDC recommends that adults strive for 150 minutes of moderate physical activity. In this case, every step counts towards that overall goal.

Maintaining an active lifestyle can result in significant health benefits, including:

  • Reducing the risk of or minimizing symptoms of chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, diabetes, colon cancer, and others.

  • Promoting better mental health (by alleviating anxiety and stress)

  • Boosting immunity, potentially by enabling better immune function

  • Helping relieve pain associated with osteoporosis

Ways To Increase Your Steps

There are plenty of ways to take more steps in your day-to-day life. While adding time to your treadmill workouts or increasing the number of walks you take can be beneficial, there are also creative ways to increase step count.

Parking Farther Away During Errands

While a coveted parking spot is desired by many, choosing to park farther away from the grocery store, shopping mall, or appointments and choosing to walk farther can add extra steps to your day.

Using a Bathroom on a Higher Floor

If you work or live in a space with multiple bathrooms, opting for the farther one (especially if you must take the stairs to reach it) is a great way to add a few more steps to your daily routine.

Cleaning Your House

Doing basic housework, even in small amounts, can increase the number of steps you take in a day. Some particularly beneficial options include:

  • Vacuuming

  • Dusting

  • Emptying/​reloading the dishwasher

  • Picking up/​putting away clutter

Working in the Yard

You don’t have to solely stick to indoor housework—outdoor maintenance can also be a great way to get out and stay active. Some options include:

  • Mowing the lawn with a push mower

  • Cleaning out the gutters

  • Raking leaves

  • Picking up clutter off the lawn


Dancing is for all ages—so turning on your favorite tunes and dancing around the house can be a great option. Additionally, finding out if a local dance class or community exists in your area can be a great way to learn a new skill and stay social.

Walking During Commercial Breaks

Even the little moments can turn into a chance to add a few extra steps—opting to get up and walk a bit during commercial breaks can be a worthwhile addition.

Walking While Waiting

When you have scheduled appointments, it’s common to be asked to sit and wait for a few minutes. Instead of perusing magazines, walking around the waiting room (provided you have the space) can kill time and add a couple more steps.

Walking To Nearby Locations

Depending on where you live, you could add to your step count by walking to nearby locations. Only need to pick up a few items at the grocery store? Try walking to the nearest one instead of driving.

Tips For Increasing Your Step Count On The Job

While some older adults may be retired and no longer in the workforce, for those that currently work, there are a few ways to increase your steps.

Walk to a Coworker’s Desk Instead of Emailing Them

While sending an email or making a quick phone call to a coworker about a situation may be your typical approach, you can try walking over to their desk and talking face-to-face instead.

If you’re willing to try an unorthodox approach, try asking if online or business meetings could be converted into a walking meeting” instead. Getting outdoors, or even just moving around, instead of sitting in a conference room could boost the mood!

Take a Walk On Your Lunch Break

If you’re not much of a morning person, try taking a walk during your lunch break in the afternoon. Even if you can only walk for a few minutes, it can still be beneficial toward your step goal and elevate your heart rate to energize you for the rest of your day.

Take The Stairs

The elevator or escalator is convenient, but try taking the stairs when you can if your job includes multiple floors. Additionally, if your park in a parking garage, you can choose a higher floor and take the stairs down. 

Opt For a Standing Desk

Whether you work from home or the office, switching out your current desk with a standing version (or, if you’re really ambitious, a treadmill desk) can keep you on your feet rather than sitting down all day.

Best Ways To Stay Motivated

While trying to achieve 10,000 steps can sound intimidating, there are some things you can do to stay motivated.

  • Use a physical activity tracker: purchasing fitness trackers that track your daily step count can give you a visual that will help you stay on task.

  • Grab a walking buddy: having someone to walk with can help with accountability and also can increase your desire to achieve your goal.

  • Find methods that work for you: while plenty of suggestions can increase your steps, they will only be beneficial if you want to do them or if they can easily fit into your life. Trying to opt for random solutions to get extra steps may cause you to lose motivation over time.

  • Get creative: you can choose creative alternatives to walking on a treadmill or taking a walk—adding some fun options such as dancing, brisk walking on a scenic route, or taking an exercise class can make you look forward to getting in those steps.

Why 10,000 steps?

The CDC recommends 10,000 steps due to studies that have shown a decrease in mortality rates and a reduction of other health issues such as chronic illness and obesity. However, lesser amounts of steps can still provide health benefits.

Is going on a walk the only way to increase step count?

While walking is considered a great way to increase steps, going on a walk isn’t the only way to do so. Doing chores, running errands, and even forms of exercise can also do the trick.

How many steps daily can best benefit older adults?

In cases of mortality and longevity, older adults ages 60+ seem to benefit from achieving 6,000-8,000 steps/day.

How many steps a day is too little?

In many cases, taking less than 5,000 steps a day is considered sedentary.

Does walking on the spot count as steps?

Walking in place does contribute towards overall step count.

Does gender matter when it comes to recommended step counts?

Gender does not matter in terms of step count goals—age and health history are considered bigger factors.

How many miles are 10,000 steps?

10,000 steps equals approximately 5 miles.

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