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How Many Steps Should I Do Per Day?

Whether you’re always donning your hiking boots, love an aerobic workout, or take to the squash court once a week, you are continually contributing towards your daily step count.

Since the rise of fitness trackers, tracking your steps has become a popular way to measure your physical activity for the day. But it’s not just dedicated gym time that helps boost that figure - even jobs that require you to be on your feet a lot or doing domestic chores will be helping you hit those step targets. It’s all about that understated facet of our health and wellbeing: movement!

When you move your body, no matter how you choose to do it, you’ll be improving your circulation, boosting your heart health, supporting weight loss, and lowering your risk of some chronic conditions. If you spend too much time sitting or doing minimal movement, your joints, mobility, and general health could suffer.

But how much should you be moving each day? Take a look, below, to find out all you need to know about how many steps you should be getting a day.

How many steps per day is healthy?

While the NHS recommends that everyone should do at least 20 minutes of moderate activity every day, we all have different fitness levels.

Generally, the average healthy adult accumulates around 4,000-18,000 steps per day, which is why 10,000 steps per day is usually the recommended amount for healthy adults.

If you reach your 10,000-step target, you won’t just have earned a congratulatory badge on your fitness tracker, but you’ll have burned around an extra 500 calories and walked close to five miles!

However, if you’re older, have mobility issues, or chronic conditions, then 10,000 steps may not be a fair target to be set, as it can cause unnecessary strain on your joints and muscles. Conversely, older children typically drum up more than 10,000 steps in a day, so their target (if they have one) will be on the higher end of the scale.

What are the recommended steps per day by age?

While there is no magic number for any age group, there are some general step counts which can be helpful if you’re looking to improve your overall health:

  • Recommended steps per day for under 18s

  • Recommended steps per day for 18-65s

  • Recommended steps per day for over 65s

Recommended steps per day for under 18s

From the age that children have learned to walk and have properly developed bodies, they should be very active and looking to get around 6,000-15,000 steps per day.

Recommended steps per day for 18-65s

The general category for adults is between 6,000-12,000 steps per day as activity levels drop off due to working life. Lower than 6,000 isn’t always a cause for concern but it is a good idea to increase your step count when you can, especially if you’re working at a desk all day.

Recommended steps per day for over 65s

Depending on your general wellbeing, over 65s should be aiming for around 3,000-10,000 steps per day.

While this recommendation is typically due to the increased likelihood of fragile bones and reduced fitness levels, everyone is different. If you’re over 65 and feel as healthy and active as you did in your 50s, then aiming for more than 10,000 steps could be the healthiest option for you.

How to get more steps into your daily routine

Want to achieve your 10,000-step target without making big changes to your lifestyle? That’s easily done!

It’s all about making walking a habit, including as much strolling time as possible in your daily routine. Take a look at our 5 top tips, below, to get more daily steps into your routine:

  • Take the steps rather than the lift – Not only will this increase your step count, but you’ll be working those quad and gluteal muscles to great effect!

  • Walk outside rather than on a treadmill – While gym environments can feel motivating, you’re more likely to achieve your step target if you’re walking outdoors, enjoying the scenery, and engaging with nature. Alternatively, if it’s within walking distance, walk to the gym to get your steps in and save yourself a treadmill session!

  • Get off public transport one stop earlier – While it might add a few minutes onto your commute, getting the extra walk into your morning and evening routine will double-up those step gains. Or, if you live close enough, you can walk to work every morning and start your day the right way!

  • Ditch the five-minute car journey – Try this tip if you’re privy to dropping your children off at school in the convenience of your family car. By ditching the car for short journeys, you'll all get some fresh air, longer family bonding time, and a healthy dose of additional steps. It's also much better for the environment!

  • Take walking work meetings – Find yourself in back-to-back work meetings? Switch things up by organising walking meetings instead. Whether popping out for a coffee or walking the high street, stretching your legs not only counts towards your 10,000-step target, but it could also help to let off steam!

To find out more about how to up your fitness levels, head over to our Be Healthy hub for everything you need to know about looking after your body. For more information about how to put your body first, visit our healthcare cover page at Benenden Health.

Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in April 2024.