What's so great about walking?
Walking can be done almost anywhere, at any time, and in any weather. It's also a great way to get from A to B, which means you can fit walking into your daily routine.
How do I know how many steps I'm taking?
The average person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day, and 1,000 steps is the equivalent of around 10 minutes of brisk walking. To find out how many steps you take each day, buy a pedometer similar to the one in the video at the bottom of this page. You can get a simple one that tracks steps for as little as £4. Clip it firmly to your belt or waistband, and it will measure every step you take: around the house, across the office, window shopping, to school or the park. You might find that you walk almost 10,000 steps a day, or that you walk less than you think. Whatever your results, knowing how far you can walk in a day will help motivate you.
How many calories will I burn if I walk 10,000 steps a day?
You'll typically use between 300 and 400 calories by walking 10,000 steps. For sustainable weight loss, you should aim for a calorie deficit – that is, more calories used than consumed – of around 600 calories per day.
What if I don’t take any exercise at the moment?
If you aren’t used to being active, start slowly. No one expects 10,000 steps on the first day! If you're worried about your joints or any existing health condition, talk to your GP. If your joints are a problem, you can see if your local swimming pool holds exercise classes. The water helps to support your joints while you move, and once you lose a bit of weight that will reduce the pressure on your joints.
Do I need any special clothing?
We recommend a pair of cushioned trainers, which most people have already.
What’s the best way to start?
Using your pedometer, find out how many steps you take during a normal day. It could be as little as 900 or as much as 5,000 depending on what you do. Interestingly, city dwellers who use public transport tend to walk more than country dwellers. Aim to take your highest total number of steps daily for a week or so, remembering to log the numbers every night in a diary to keep track. As soon as you feel comfortable, try to increase your steps to 10,000 a day. Check out our Getting started guide to walking for tips on mixing it up and setting yourself reasonable goals.
10,000 steps sounds like a huge amount. How do I fit all that walking into my busy day?
Try these tips for getting more steps into your life:
- Get off the bus early and walk the rest of the way home or to work.
- Walk to the station instead of taking the car or bus.
- Invest in a ‘sholley’ or shopping trolley and shop locally if you can.
- Walk the children to school, whatever the weather.
- Get fit with Fido – walk the dog. For more tips and advice see the link on the right of the page.
I find walking boring. How can I make it more fun?
- Find a walking partner so you have someone to chat to as you walk.
- Get an MP3 player and listen to your favourite tracks or podcasts as you go.
- Remember how much good you're doing for your health by walking, and enjoy the scenery, shops and people you see.
How long do I have to keep walking?
The rest of your life! It takes a while for a regular activity to become a healthy habit, so just keep going and it will become second nature. You’ll soon find yourself doing many more than 10,000 steps some days.
What if I can’t walk for a few days due to illness or a holiday?
Just start again when you can, and build up slowly if you've been ill. The sooner you get back into the exercise groove, the better. When going on a holiday, choose one where you'll have plenty of opportunities to walk, for instance along the beach or in the countryside.
Is walking enough? Or should I think about other exercise as well?
The amount of exercise that is recommended depends on your age. Adults between 19 and 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – such as fast walking or cycling – per week. Learn more in Physical activity guidelines for adults. Once you're feeling the benefits of 10,000 steps a day, you're bound to start thinking about other forms of activity. You could visit your local fitness centre and see what's on offer. Some people enjoy competitive sports, others prefer sociable physical activity such as dancing. You can get more ideas in Get fit your way.