Is 20K steps every day good for you?


Walking 20,000 steps per day, which equals about 10 miles, sounds like a lofty goal. But is it actually good for you?

Let's take a closer look at the potential benefits and drawbacks of striving for 20,000 daily steps.

What Does Research Say About 20,000 Steps Per Day?

What Does Research Say About 20,000 Steps Per Day?

Most major health organizations like the American Heart Association (AHA) typically recommend 10,000 steps per day for good health. The popular 10,000 number originates from a 1960s Japanese walking program.

However, some research suggests 20,000 steps daily provides additional benefits:

  • One study found women who walked over 19,000 steps daily had lower BMI and body fat percentage versus those taking 10,000 or less.
  • In another study, men who averaged over 15,000 steps daily had significantly lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels compared to men walking under 5,000 steps.
  • Research shows once you surpass 10-12,000 steps daily, you continue burning incrementally more calories. Going from 10,000 to 20,000 steps burns about 400 extra calories.

So while 10,000 steps daily is good, 20,000 steps seems to take benefits up a notch. But there are caveats...

Can There Be Drawbacks to 20,000 Steps Each Day?

For most people, hitting 20,000 steps means walking over two hours per day. While beneficial for health, this level may lead to:


Too much daily activity without rest days could potentially increase injury risk or cause overtraining. This is especially true if you ramp up quickly versus gradually increasing walking volume.

Make sure to include easier recovery days where you walk less. Optimal recovery prevents overuse issues.


Fitting in over two hours of purposeful walking every single day takes major dedication. Unless you genuinely enjoy walking this much, you may eventually experience burnout.

To make 20,000 steps sustainable, focus on pleasure not pressure. Walk at a relaxing pace in environments you find calming and energizing.

Eating More Calories

The extra 400 calories burned from 10,000 to 20,000 steps must come from somewhere. Hunger and food intake naturally increase to compensate for substantially greater calorie expenditure.

Without paying attention, you might nullify the calorie burn by eating more. Monitor your hunger cues and calorie intake to avoid taking in more than you burn.

Diminishing Returns

Research shows health and fitness gains start diminishing around 10-15,000 steps. While 20,000 remains beneficial, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck up to 10-15,000 steps versus going above that.

If your primary goal is weight loss, limiting calorie intake tends to matter more than additional calorie burn from extra steps above 15,000.

Who Does Better With 20,000 Steps Daily?

While 20,000 steps daily has risks, certain individuals stand to benefit more from this higher goal:

Sedentary People

For very sedentary individuals, a leap to 20,000 steps offers huge advantages. It provides structure to substantially raise daily activity levels.

Just be mindful of injury risk. Ramp up walking gradually if starting from a very low baseline. Build a foundation with 10,000 steps first before progressing safely.

Active Commuters

Some people easily accumulate extra steps from active commuting. Urban dwellers relying on public transit often hit 20,000 just through daily walking routines.

In this scenario, 20,000 steps simply maintains natural activity levels versus actively trying to increase them. It feels effortless versus forced.

Athletes in Training

Athletes in training for certain sports like running, basketball, soccer, tennis, hockey, cycling, etc can more easily handle 20,000 steps around structured workout routines.

The extra steps function as low-intensity active recovery while the workouts provide high-intensity training stimulus.

Just ensure extra steps don’t interfere with rest and regeneration. Take occasional lower step days to avoid overtraining.

The Highly Active

Some hyper-motivated individuals enjoy being active and choose lifestyles involving large step totals.

For example, personal trainers, mail carriers, and waitstaff often cover serious ground daily and find 20,000 steps realistic.

The key is the high activity aligns with values and feels energizing versus drudgery. Stay tuned to your body’s signals.

Tips to Reach 20,000 Daily Steps

Here are some practical tips for reaching 20,000 steps without overdoing it:

  • Slowly Build Up: Start from your current baseline and gradually increase daily steps by 500 to 1,000 per week. This allows your body to adapt without excessive fatigue or soreness.
  • Break It Up: Divide 20,000 steps across short walks throughout the day instead of doing it all at once. Take regular short activity breaks.
  • Include Variety: Walk, hike, bike, swim, play sports, strength train. Varied activities reduce repetitive stress from just walking.
  • Make It Fun: Walk with friends, family or pets. Listen to music, audiobooks or podcasts. Explore new routes. Every little bit adds up.
  • Rest Strategically: Take at least 1-2 days off per week from targeted walking to allow muscles time to recover and strengthen.
  • Fuel and Hydrate Well: Eat a balanced diet and stay hydrated to properly fuel higher activity levels. Time meals and snacks to provide energy for walks.
  • Use Devices Wisely: Activity trackers can motivate but don't become obsessed with step counts. Focus more on how you feel versus what devices say.
  • Tune Inward: Stay mindful of your body's signals. Alter plans when overly fatigued. 20,000 steps every single day is not realistic or necessary for everyone.

The Bottom Line on 20,000 Steps Per Day

While research shows potential benefits, 20,000 steps daily is a high bar that’s not essential or realistic for most people long-term. Around 10,000 daily steps meets general health needs for the average person.

If you pursue 20,000 steps, increase gradually, take rest days, fuel well, prioritize enjoyment over tracking, and stay tuned to your body's feedback. Avoid burnout, strain or unhealthy obsession.

Ultimately, the magic fitness number differs by individual. Find the sweet spot where you feel energized and healthy, whether that's 5,000, 10,000, 15,000 or ideally not over 20,000 steps per day.

Is walking 20K steps every day good for you?

Yes, walking 20,000 steps a day can be very beneficial for your health. It is considered a form of moderate to vigorous physical activity and can help you meet the recommended guidelines for daily exercise.

What are the benefits of walking 20,000 steps?

Walking 20,000 steps a day can improve cardiovascular health, promote weight loss, increase energy levels, strengthen muscles and bones, reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure, enhance mental well-being, and improve overall fitness.

How many calories can I burn by walking 20K steps?

The number of calories burned while walking 20,000 steps depends on various factors like body weight, intensity, and terrain. On average, you can burn around 1000-1200 calories by walking 20,000 steps.

How long does it take to walk 20,000 steps?

The time taken to walk 20,000 steps can vary depending on your walking speed and stride length. On average, it would take approximately 2.5 to 4 hours to walk 20,000 steps.

What are some tips for walking 20,000 steps a day?

To walk 20,000 steps a day, you can try to incorporate walking into your daily routine by taking shorter walks throughout the day, using a pedometer or fitness tracker to monitor your steps, wearing comfortable walking shoes, breaking up long periods of sitting with a quick walk, and gradually increasing your daily step count over time.

What are the health benefits of walking?

Walking has numerous health benefits, including improved cardiovascular fitness, increased bone and muscle strength, weight management, better mental health, reduced risk of chronic diseases, enhanced immune function, and improved overall well-being.

How many steps should I aim for each day?

It is recommended to aim for at least 10,000 steps per day for general health benefits. However, if you are looking for more significant health improvements, gradually increasing your step count to 20,000 steps a day can help.

What happens when you walk 20,000 steps a day for two weeks?

Walking 20,000 steps a day for two weeks can lead to noticeable improvements in your fitness level, weight management, cardiovascular health, muscle tone, stamina, and overall well-being. Consistency is key to achieving these benefits.

How can I increase my stride length while walking?

To increase your stride length while walking, focus on maintaining good posture, engaging your core muscles, swinging your arms, taking longer steps, and walking with a slightly faster pace. Regular walking and practicing these techniques can help you naturally increase your stride length.

How can I become more active besides walking 20,000 steps a day?

Walking 20,000 steps a day is an excellent way to stay active, but you can also try incorporating other physical activities into your routine. This may include strength training, cycling, swimming, yoga, dancing, or participating in sports or fitness classes.

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