How Many Average Daily Steps People Walk

See how many steps per day the typical person takes

Commuters rushing
Stuart Dee/Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

How many steps per day does the average adult take? Studies found that the average American adult only makes it about halfway to a goal of 10,000 steps per day, although those who wear an activity monitor or pedometer seem to log more steps per day. If you walk between 5,000 and 7,000 steps per day, you are an average American.

However, this is a case where it definitely pays to be above average.

At 5,000 steps per day, it is unlikely you are getting the amount of exercise recommended to reduce health risks. Plus, it is likely that you are sitting and inactive for long periods during the day, which can increase health risks.

Average Daily Steps by Country and Gender

A 2016 study of 103,383 American employees in a workplace-based physical activity challenge found that they averaged 6,886 steps per day—but they may have walked more than usual due to being part of the challenge.

A study published in 2010 of over 1,000 Americans found an average of 5,117 steps overall, with men only slightly ahead of women at 5,340 steps compared with 4,912 steps. The U.S. data was collected from people who wore a pedometer for two days during normal activity. The researchers compared with studies in other countries:

  • United States: 5,117 steps. This is about 2.5 miles or about 4 kilometers each day.
  • Switzerland: 9,650 steps. This is about 4.8 miles or 8 kilometers each day.
  • Japan: 7,168 steps. This is about 3.5 miles or 6 kilometers each day.
  • Western Australia: 9,695 steps (similar to the Swiss results). However, a wider survey in Australia found an average of 7,400 steps, more in step with Japan.

Activity Monitor Data

The companies who make mobile phones, fitness apps, activity bands, and pedometers receive continuous data from their users on total daily steps.

This data may be skewed in that people who wear pedometers or activity bands are motivated to take more steps per day and reach targets. They may not wear the pedometer or carry the phone continuously throughout the day.

Withings released data from a panel of its pedometer users in 2015 that showed these averages:

  • United States: 5,815 steps
  • France: 6,330 steps
  • Germany 6,337
  • United Kingdom: 6,322

Fitbit released data on the average steps per day for each U.S. state, based on over one million users, comparing summer to winter 2012 to 2014. Overall, Fitbit wearers walked 7,000 steps per day in winter and 1,000 more steps per day in summer, around an average of 8,000 steps.

How Many Steps per Day Are Enough?

The goal of 10,000 steps per day was not originally determined by research. It was a nice, round number that fit well into a pedometer advertising campaign. However, according to research by Catrine Tudor-Locke, it has proven to be a fairly good marker for being moderately active and achieving the minimum amount of physical activity recommended each day.

If you typically walk 5,000 steps each day without any dedicated exercise time, look for ways to add 2,000-3,000 more steps to your day. You can walk at a brisk pace or enjoy a run for 15 to 30 minutes to add those steps while getting the moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercise recommended for everyone daily to reduce health risks.

You should also aim to break up long periods of sitting, as many studies find that being inactive for most of the day is its own health risk. Many activity bands and smartwatches are incorporating inactivity alerts and move reminders. Newer Fitbit models remind you to move at least 250 steps each hour. By using this goal, you should be able to add an additional 1,000 to 2,000 steps per day to your total.

A Word From Verywell

The number of steps you take each day is an indicator of whether you are getting the amount of physical activity you need to reduce health risks and improve your fitness. You can monitor your step count in many ways, including wearing a pedometer or fitness band or checking a pedometer app on your mobile phone (assuming you carry it with you most of the day).

Don't settle for average. Increase your steps to reduce inactive periods and achieve 30 minutes of exercise each day.

Sources:

Australian Health Survey: Physical Activity 2011-12. Australian Bureau of Statistics. http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4364.0.55.004Chapter5002011-12.

Bassett DR, Wyatt HR, Thompson H, Peters JC, Hill JO. Pedometer-Measured Physical Activity and Health Behaviors in U.S. Adults. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 42, No. 10. 2010;1819–1825.

Berko J, Goetzel RZ, Roemer EC, Kent K, Marchibroda J. Results from the bipartisan policy Centerʼs CEO council physical activity challenge to American business. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2016;58(12):1239–1244. doi:10.1097/jom.0000000000000897.

Weathering the Weather: Fitbit Weathermap 2012-2014. Fitbit. https://www.fitbit.com/weathermap#i.1fnsbip795f7ux.

Which is the most active country on weekdays, hour by hour?(FR, DE, UK, US). Withings. https://blog.withings.com/2014/09/05/which-is-the-most-active-country/.