How to Start Taking 15,000 Steps a Day

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Most people have heard about the 10,000 steps a day rule. This is the “magic number” of steps you should take daily to be healthy.

But what if that number is wrong? 15,000 steps might be a better goal – and if you are super motivated, it’s actually achievable for most people.

What’s great about maximizing steps is that walking is an underrated form of exercise. It burns calories, gets your muscles and cardiovascular system working, and doesn’t impact your joints like running.

For some people, 15,000 steps might sound intimidating, but it’s not hard if you add steps throughout your day.

Here’s how to fit 15,000 steps a day into your routine and why this might be the new daily step count to aim for.

How Far is 15,000 Steps in Miles?

The exact distance that 15,000 steps take you varies from person to person. Your stride length—the distance you cover in two steps—plays a big role in how many steps you take.

Your stride length is calculated on your height, weight, the speed you’re moving, and your level of flexibility. If you’re tall and take longer strides, it will take you a longer distance to cover 15,000 steps than someone short who takes shorter, quicker steps.

But on average, 15,000 steps is about 6.5 miles in distance. For taller folks with long strides, it could be longer, 7 to 8 miles. If you have a shorter stride, it might be a little less, maybe 5.5 miles. If you want exact measurements, you’ll need to measure your walks.

How Long Does It Take To Walk 15,000 Steps?

If you’re walking 3 miles per hour, you can expect to walk 15,000 steps in about 2.5 hours. Increasing your speed to 5 miles per hour means you should hit 15,000 steps in about 90 minutes.

Remember that if you’re splitting your walks into separate, shorter ones, it’ll be easier to get your 15,000 steps in throughout the day. You don’t have to get 15,000 steps in one shot.

What Does Walking 15,000 Steps a Day Do for Your Body?

Here are some great benefits of walking 15,000 steps every day:

Improved Cardiovascular Health

Walking is an amazing way to work the heart and lungs without doing a high-intensity activity. They’ll still get a good workout, especially on longer walks, and you’ll find that your cardio fitness improves over time.

Reduced Risk of Chronic Diseases

Most chronic diseases are rooted in inflammation, and the biggest enemy of inflammation is oxygen. Walking opens the lungs and helps you to take in more oxygen, which can help reduce your risk of developing many diseases.

Enhanced Mental Well-Being

Walking gets the blood flowing, which means the brain is getting all the oxygen and nutrients it needs to perform at its best. Plus, exercise releases endorphins, which relieve pain, promote relaxation and improve mental well-being.

Increased Energy Levels

Don’t think you’ll be exhausted after walking 15,000 steps each day! The fitter you become, the better your energy levels will be. The more your cardiovascular system improves, the more oxygen you’ll be able to take in, boosting energy and vitality.

Better Joint Health

As well as oxygen and nutrients flooding the brain and muscles, your joints will see improved blood flow. This reduces inflammation, which can ease joint pain and improve mobility.

Walking is also much more low-impact than running, so it’s a safe way to exercise without adding extra strain to the ankles, knees, and hips.

Weight Loss and Management

If weight loss is one of your goals, walking 15,000 steps every day can go a long way toward helping you reach those goals. As long as you’re eating fewer calories than you’re burning, you’ll lose fat.

How Many Calories Can You Burn Walking 15,000 Steps a Day?

Those walking for weight loss will be pleased to know that you can burn between 500 and 1,000 calories walking 15,000 steps, depending on various factors. The more you weigh, the more calories you’re likely to burn, as your body has to exert more energy to move.

If you’re walking on rough terrain or hilly ground, you’ll also burn more calories as your muscles work harder. The faster or more intensely you walk, the more you’ll burn as well.

Your age and fitness level also play a role—the fitter you are, the fewer calories you’ll burn, and you might also burn fewer as you age.

How to Walk 15,000 Steps a Day

Getting in 15,000 steps a day is a challenge. But if you plan ahead, it’s easier than you think!

Set Realistic Goals

If you’re only hitting 2,000 steps now and your schedule is packed, you might need to adjust your goals. Be honest—is 15,000 steps a day a realistic goal for you?

Keep in mind that you need to work it around your schedule. If you walk a lot for work, it could be easier. But if you’re sitting behind a desk, it could be harder. Assess your fitness level, schedule, and opportunities to walk, and make sure 15,000 is a realistic goal.

If it isn’t, no worries—just set a smaller goal that’s within reach, and you can adjust again once you’ve hit that goal.

Create a Walking Training Plan

Having a plan will serve you well because you’ll know how far, how long, and where you will be walking each day. No guesswork makes it easy to fit into everyday life, and you don’t have to wonder what you’re doing—just check the plan and go.

Your plan will depend on your fitness level, time, and availability. You might be new to walking and choose to walk 5,000 steps on three days of the week and 10,000 steps on Saturday and Sunday until you can work your way up to 15,000.

This is totally up to you. If you want to work up to more steps, add 10 percent to your step count, time, or distance weekly. This will help you to keep moving up without overdoing it.

Break Up Your Walking Into Smaller Sessions

15,000 steps is a lot to do in one go! It’s more manageable to break it up into smaller chunks throughout the day. Here’s an easy way of doing that.

Begin With a Morning Walk

A morning walk is a great way to kickstart your step count for the day. It gets the blood flowing and wakes you up better than coffee! By the time you start your day, you’ll already have a few thousand steps under your belt.

Post-Dinner Walks

Walking after dinner can not only up your step count, but it can also help the digestive process. Take a slower, easier walk after you’ve eaten, but it’s another opportunity to add a few thousands steps to your total.

Commute Creatively

Most of us drive to work, but depending on where you work, you could miss an opportunity to add some steps to your day.

Park Farther Away

If you have no choice but to drive to work, you can add a few hundred steps to your daily tally just by parking further away from the office than usual. This is a small change, but those steps add up over time.

Public Transportation

Public transportation can also help you get more steps in and save a bit of cash simultaneously! Give your car a break here and there and walk to the nearest bus stop or taxi stop. As you get more fit, you can start walking to the next stop, both going to and returning from work.

Walking Commute

If you live close enough to work, you can walk to the office each morning. Most offices have a shower where you can freshen up before tackling your work day.

Take your work clothes along in a bag and an extra set of clothes for the walk back. You might want to take a bag to store your damp running clothes in so they don’t come into contact with your clean clothes.

At Work

Once you’re at work, don’t assume you’ll have no chance to get your steps in. Here are some sneaky ways to get more steps while at the office.

Use the Stairs

Avoid the elevators and take the stairs where and when you can. Get into the habit of heading to the stairs instead of the lift whenever you need to leave the office.

If You Can, Use a Standing Desk

A standing desk often helps your posture, but if you pair it with a walking treadmill, you can get in a huge chunk of your steps during working hours. Ask your office manager before making this change, but adding some activity is an excellent way.

Walk During Your Lunch Break

It’s a habit to sit down and eat or eat behind our laptops. But taking a walk during your lunch break can add steps to your total and help your digestion. If you need to sit and eat, you can take a stroll to a nearby park or find a spot a little way away to eat.

Or, you can walk and eat at the same time if you’re able. Either way, it’s an hour or so of time that doesn’t need to be wasted.

Take Regular Breaks

Aim to get up from your desk every hour or so and take a short walk. It can be to the end of the passage, the bathroom, downstairs, or wherever you want.

If you’re at work for 8 hours and getting 200 steps during each walking break, you will add an easy 1,600 steps to your total at the end of the day.

Outside of Work

Once the working day is over, your opportunities for steps don’t stop! Try some of these easy ways to get more steps in.

Walk with Friends or Family

Meeting up with a friend or walking with a family member daily is a great way to catch up and spend quality time together. It also keeps your mind distracted so before you know it, you could have an extra few thousand steps under your belt without even realizing it.

Join a Walking Group

If you struggle to stay accountable, joining a walking group is a great idea. A quick internet search will find groups near you, and it’s a good way to meet like-minded people and make some friends.

Plus, it’ll help keep you accountable to people who have your best interests at heart. This is a good choice for those who don’t have a family member to walk regularly with.

Join a Walking Challenge

To keep you motivated, consider joining a steps challenge! Some walking apps have challenges you can join, which offer achievement badges when you complete them.

Otherwise, a Google search will bring up any more formal walking challenge events that may be held in your area.

Track Your Progress

Tracking your progress not only keeps you on the right track throughout the day but it can help you see how you’re improving over time. How you track your progress is up to you, but here are some popular options.

Smartwatch or Fitness Tracker

A smartwatch or fitness tracker is easy and practical. Most people have a watch anyway, so this is a great way to keep track without thinking about it.

Make sure your watch is calibrated to your height and weight, or it may give inaccurate readings. Most watches do this automatically once you’ve set them up but it’s worth checking.

Smartphone App

You can use a smartphone app to track your steps if you take your phone with you when you walk and you don’t have a smartwatch. If you tend to walk a lot for work, this could be a good idea as it’s highly likely you’ll have it with you.

However, many apps will require GPS use, which can drain your battery if it’s on permanently. It’s also not the best choice if you’d rather leave your phone at home for some walks.

Use a Pedometer

A pedometer is a small step-counter clipped into your shoe or waistband. Its only function is to count your steps, so this could be a good choice if you’re only interested in steps and don’t need a watch, don’t want extra data like calories burned, and don’t want to carry a phone. They’re affordable and easy to use, and the battery usually lasts a long time.

Tips For Walking 15,000 Steps A Day

Does 15,000 steps a day sound hard? Here are our best tips to build your way up to it and continue enjoying it.

Start Slowly

You don’t need to start doing 15,000 steps every day from tomorrow. If you’ve never walked that many steps in a day before, you’ll probably feel stiff and exhausted the following day, so start slow and work your way up.

If you’re currently doing 5,000 steps a day, aim for 7,000. Once you’re hitting 7,000 consistently, aim for 10,000. Continue until you can comfortably do 15,000 steps daily.

Wear Comfortable Shoes and Clothing

When you head out for a walk, wear comfortable shoes and clothing whenever possible. We understand that if you’re using a walking treadmill at work or walking around while on a work phone call, you’ll be restricted to your formal work attire.

But whenever you can go out and take a walk outside of work, wear comfortable, cushioned shoes that support your feet, and soft, breathable clothing that doesn’t chafe.

If you’re walking to work or home, carry your work clothing in a bag and opt for casual, comfortable activewear. Smart shoes aren’t supportive enough for your feet and formal clothing isn’t designed to move with your body.

Stay Hydrated and Eat Well

Your body needs fuel to power it through 15,000 steps a day, so make sure you’re giving it healthy, nutrient-dense foods and plenty of water. Make sure you eat at regular intervals during the day, unless you’re fasting as part of your fitness goals.

If you’re going on a long walk to get the majority of your 15,000 steps in, don’t forget to take water and fuel with you so you can replenish along the way.

Make Your Walks More Enjoyable

Do whatever makes your walks more fun! Listen to music if it helps you enjoy your walk more—we recommend bone conduction earphones for the best combination of sound quality and safety.

Or, gamify your runs to make them more interesting. See how many dogs you can spot along your route, or list a few things to look out for—a woman in pink trousers, someone wearing a yellow hat, or a tree with two different colored leaves. It’s up to you how to make it fun!

Variety Can Keep Your Walks Interesting

Choose different routes, up the pace, choose a hill over a flat walk a few times a week. Walk with someone else a few times. When your walks start to get a little boring, varying things up a little bit can make them fun and exciting again.

Practice Mindful Walking

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment. That isn’t something wishy-washy—it just means paying attention. You can choose to pay attention to your footfalls, your breathing, or do a body scan.

You can choose to count steps, or count your blessings while you’re walking. Whatever helps you to be present in the moment and not just walk mindlessly.

Listen to Your Body

Never stop listening to your body. If you feel pain, discomfort, or something doesn’t feel quite right, stop and assess. Don’t run through pain, unless it’s simply stiffness from the day before (which will ease up if you warm up properly).

You don’t have to finish a run if you’re worried about something. Pay attention to your body, muscles, breathing, and form. When you notice something that doesn’t feel right, rather stop and risk injury that could set you back for weeks.

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AUTHOR

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.