Why should I walk 10,000 steps a day?

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Experts don't quite know why walking 10,000 steps a day (about 5 miles) works, but they do know that 10,000 seems to be the minimum number that provides the most health benefit. In fact, "10K a day" breaks down insulin resistance much better than 8K, and 12K doesn’t help more than 10K does. So 10K a day is really the sweet spot where people lose weight and improve their health in other ways, including gaining control of diabetes.

A pedometer measures the number of steps you take. You can use it to measure your movement throughout a day and compare it to other days or to recommended amounts. This may motivate you to move more. The recommended number of steps accumulated per day to achieve health benefits is 10,000 steps or more.

One study out of California State University showed that mood lifted in correlation with increased numbers of daily steps, and researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that 30 minutes of walking each day cut stroke risk by a minimum of 20%. Of course, you’ll also burn calories and fat, and if outside, enjoy an extra dose of sunny vitamin D while you’re at it.

Why 10,000 steps a day isn't one-size-fits-all

Since everyone is different and has a unique lifestyle, activity level and goals, it makes sense that not everyone will need the same amount of exercise each day to be healthy. Part of this comes down to each person's individual goals and health concerns. But, for the average person, is 10,000 steps a day really enough to be considered active and healthy? It can be a great goal and starting place, according to professor Paul Gordon, an exercise physiologist and chair of Baylor University's Department of Health, Human Performance and Recreation.

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