Stride Toward Health: Getting in Your Daily Steps

June 19, 2024
Webinar Q&A

View the Webinar Recording


Key webinar takeaway: 

  • Move more! Don’t get caught up in 10,000 steps or any other specific number

How many steps should you take?

There’s no gold standard or “accepted” recommendation, but here are some commonly used definitions. :

  • <5,000 steps per day = sedentary
  • 5,000 - 7,500 steps per day = low active
  • 7,500 - 10,000 steps per day = somewhat active
  • 10,000 - 12,500 steps per day = active
  • >12,500 steps per day = highly active

There are benefits to doing more! Starting at around 3,000 steps per day:

  • Each additional 500 steps per day is related to a 7% decrease in cardiovascular disease mortality
  • Each additional 1,000 steps per day is related to a 15% decrease in all-cause mortality

Target steps/day for greatest benefit:

  • 6,000 - 8,000 steps per day for individuals ≥60 years of age
  • 7,000 - 9,000 steps per day for individuals <60 years of age

Are steps equivalent to exercise?

You need at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity cardiovascular activity per week to meet the recommendations for most adults

Steps can make up a portion of exercise minutes if they:

  • Are taken at a pace of 100 to 130 steps per minute
  • If you accrue 3,000 steps in 30 minutes (recommended 5x per week)
  • If you accrue 1,000 steps in 10 minutes, done 3x per day for 30 minutes total (recommended 5x per week)

How to get your daily steps:

We tend to overestimate – use a tracker! 

Pick a realistic goal. For example, it may be unrealistic to quickly increase from < 5,000 to something like 8,000 steps per day. 

  • If you currently take fewer than 5,000 per day, try to add 250 to 500 steps per day
  • 250 steps is about 2.5 minutes of brisk walking; 500 steps is about 5 minutes of brisk walking
  • Increase your steps per day every 2-3 weeks or as doable

Suggestions to increase daily steps:

  • Park farther away
  • Clean your house 
  • Dance 
  • Do yard work
  • Set a reminder to move on your phone (or fitness tracker)
  • Walk or march in place (seated or standing) during commercials
  • Take an after dinner walk every day
  • Take the stairs
  • Walk the dog
  • Go for a walk with kids–good for them too!

Set a new SMART steps goal

SPECIFIC: I will take “____” more steps per day

MEASUREABLE: I will wear a step counter and track my progress

ACTION ORIENTED: I will set my phone or fitness tracker to give me an hourly reminder to move

REALISTIC: This is an increase of “___” steps over what I am doing now, which will only take me “___” extra minutes per day

TIME BOUND: I will keep this goal for the next 2 weeks and then increase by another “___” steps per day

Health Coach Q & A

Question: I can't increase my steps due to knee problems.  Can you translate the steps recommendation into walking in the pool?

Response: Absolutely! Aim for as many minutes as possible of “moderate” intensity activity. When in the pool, work to increase your heart rate to be in your “target” zone. You can visit an online calculator to find your target zone, which is around 70-80% of your max heart rate (example calculator: 

For example, if you have a goal to increase your steps by 500 per day, add about 5 minutes of moderate intensity pool walking or running (performed in water at least chest deep. You can use hand weights to further increase the intensity). You can also try other activities outside of the pool to increase your daily steps such as seated or standing marching in place. 

Question: Why is an older person having as much benefit with less steps?

Response: As we age, our metabolism changes and we lose some muscle mass. A single step expends more energy for an older adult compared to a younger adult. Thus, older adults receive similar health benefits at a lower step threshold. 

Question: My daily steps fall between 5000 and 7000 - I'm not consistent with a specific number but do always try to get at least 5000, and if I go over I feel it's a bonus.  How should I approach increasing - add 250 steps over the day before?

Response: Since we generally don’t take the exact same number of steps each day, you can calculate your goal based on the average number of steps you usually take. Calculate your average steps per day from the previous week. Let’s say that number is 6,000. Add 250 to 500 steps (so between 6,250 and 6,500 total) and strive to get at least that many steps every day of the following week. You might find that it is easiest to target 250 additional steps on the days you are less active and 500 on days you are more active. 

Question: How do you transfer dancing into steps?

Response: Dancing tends to be more intense than regular steps. We can therefore count dancing as “healthy” steps! If you dance for 5 minutes, that is equivalent to about 500 steps that also count as moderate-intensity exercise! If you wear a fitness tracker, you should see it track the steps you take while dancing, and it may even award you more steps than you technically took if the movements you make are vigorous (e.g., bouncing).

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Unstoppable: Turning Challenges into Victories to Break Through Plateaus and Setbacks

July 3, 2024 12:30 PM
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