The Average Number of Steps Per Day

senior woman walking in mountain woods with phone


How many steps does the average person take a day? 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. If your average number of steps per day is around 5,000, it is unlikely you are getting the amount of exercise recommended to reduce health risks. Plus, you may find that you are sitting and inactive for long periods during the day, which can increase health risks.


Watch Now: 5 Ways To Increase Your Daily Step Count

Average Steps Per Day

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.

How Many Miles is 7,000 Steps?

There are a variety of factors that could influence how many steps are in a mile. Gender, stride length, age, and pace all play a role.

Generally speaking, if you have a shorter stride, an average daily step count of 7,000 steps is roughly equivalent to around 3.1 miles. However, if you're looking for a more accurate estimate of how many steps you personally take in a mile, you may want to try a steps-to-miles calculator.

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.

Researchers compared the average step counts from the U.S. with 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

These days, you don't have to calculate how many steps are in a mile or guess how many steps you take each day. Your pedometer, activity band, mobile phone, or certain fitness apps can do it for you.

The companies that make these products 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.

Factors That Influence Steps Per Day

A number of factors can affect a person's daily step count. Some of these include:

  • Age: Someone's age may have an impact on their average daily steps. Children, adolescents, and young adults are more active and therefore likely to average more steps a day than older adults. Steps might be more limited for older adults who are less ambulatory, sedentary, or have mobility issues.
  • Sex: When it comes to a step battle of the sexes, men take the lead, taking about 9% more steps on a daily average compared to women.
  • Height and stride: Many pedometers ask for your height because stride length is largely determined by your height. People who are shorter tend to have a shorter stride, resulting in more steps per mile compared to their taller counterparts.
  • Occupation: Not every job is the same when it comes to activity level and daily steps. People with occupations that involve a lot of sitting, for example, are likely to have lower daily step counts than active jobs like traffic cops, construction workers, and restaurant managers.

Optimal Daily Step Goal

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, research has shown that this step goal is a fairly good marker for being moderately active and achieving the minimum amount of physical activity recommended each day. Your individual step goal may be the same or different, depending on your health, age, or goals.

If one of your goals is to lose weight or reduce your risk of metabolic syndrome, you may want to consider upping your daily step average. In a 2017 study, researchers found that those who took about 15,000 average steps a day had a lower risk of metabolic syndrome and were more likely to lose weight.

Kids and teens may also benefit from taking more steps. Current research suggests that the optimal step count for children and adolescents between the ages of five to 19 years old is about 12,000 daily steps.On the other hand, for older adults or those with chronic health conditions, 10,000 steps per day might be too much and a lower step goal may be more appropriate.

How to Increase Your Daily Steps

If you typically walk 5,000 steps each day without any dedicated exercise time, look for ways to add 2,000 to 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.

Other quick ways to add more steps throughout your day:

  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Find the furthest parking spot.
  • Set an alarm on your phone to get up every hour on the hour (if your activity monitor or watch isn't already doing this).
  • Schedule walking or standing meetings.
  • Drink lots of water (you'll have to get up often to refill your bottle, and to use the restroom).
  • Go for a walk during your lunch break.
  • Take a "walk break" (like a smoke break, but for walking).

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.

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Article Sources
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