Who said you need 10,000 steps?


More is better. That should be the American slogan — or at least, so it seems. So you walk or run 10,000 steps? Of course you have to keep upping the ante. Beat your old record. Right? Or do you?

Why 10,000 Steps?
Mr. Judy shared this post with me quite some time ago about the origins of shooting for 10,000 steps (read it here).

Fitbit, apparently, starts everyone out at 10, 000 steps a day. Which is a recipe for disaster if you’re only getting about 2,000 steps a day on average. But I like what they say in this blog post (read it here):

Thing is, 10,000 steps per day might not make sense for you. You may need to nab more if you want to lose a certain amount of weight, or take fewer steps if you’re new to fitness or recovering from an injury. Your step goal can vary depending on your needs, and it can also shift over time. Here’s how to set it right for you.

Sometimes rest is more important than meeting some arbitrary goal
Why letting go of a step goal can make sense
I find that I have plenty of days where I’ve been active and I don’t reach 10,000 steps. There are no steps in swimming. There are no steps in cycling (stationary, in my case). There are times when pushing yourself to get to the holy grail of 10k steps (15, or whatever) just don’t make sense, but it’s become so ingrained in us that we must reach a certain step goal that a lot of us don’t stop to think if we’ve been active enough . . . even if we’re not getting in the “holy grail” of steps.

Don’t forget, either, that it’s about balance over time. Maybe on a rest day you only get in 6000 steps, but on a more active day you get in well over 10k — it’s very easy for me to get in well over 10k steps on days that I run, but on busy days I may be active, but still not able to get to 10k steps. And I’m okay with that. And you should be, too.

Maybe a better goal is to shoot for an average daily number of steps based on a week’s worth of data.

One reason people often quit running — and exercise in general — is because it’s “too hard”. Well, of course it feels too hard if you go from 2,000 to 10,000 steps immediately. It takes time for your body to adapt to exercise (or re-adapt to exercise after a break).

I had a lot of 2000 step days & I’m okay with that
It’s much more important to listen to your body than to blindly follow a goal that “someone” says you should be following.

When I was sick, I didn’t do much of anything for a couple of weeks. My body needed that rest. And when I started to add activity back in, I also found that I needed more rest than normal — so I still rarely got anywhere near to 10k steps.

Slowly, but surely, though, I felt better. For a while I need way more rest than normal, but as I continued to add in activity and balance it with rest, I found I didn’t need as much recovery time. This week, for the first time in weeks, I ran back to back days. Easy, short runs, of course.

Last week there were days I had well over 10k steps — I ran. I ran and walked the dogs. They were balanced by days that I was active — doing bodyweight exercises and stationary biking — but fell short of 10k steps. Because I’m more in step with what my body needs right now.

It’s okay to challenge yourself
Don’t get me wrong: you have to change things up. You have to increase your walks, your runs, your weights. Your body quickly adapts to a certain amount of exercise, and you need to change it up to get stronger. I’m not saying you shouldn’t challenge yourself.

That doesn’t mean you have to constantly increase the same thing because someone said that 10k steps is what you need — or more. Balance over time, folks, balance over time. Figure out what’s right for your body, and take what “they” say with a grain of salt.

I’m linking up with with MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice, and My No Guilt Life for the Tuesdays on the Run linkup.


This week I am also joining up with Running on Happy, Suzlyfe, Crazy Running Girl, and Coach Debbie Runs each week for the Coaches’ Corner linkup


Do you have a step goal?

Do you make sure that you reach it every day?

How do you feel if you don’t reach your goal?

20 thoughts on “Who said you need 10,000 steps?

  1. I did get my steps in no matter what when I had a FitBit. It was a great motivator.

    We had this conversation at brunch. Some people need more motivation than others. You don’t. I don’t. But step count and challenges get them out moving.

    Now I have to look on my phone to check my steps and I never do. I don’t care because I know I am active. I rarely even sit.

    Steps are just moving. We can all get in 10k if we try. And I think we should.

    Obviously if you too sick to leave the house or cannot walk, it would not be wise.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have lots of days I don’t get in 10k steps. And plenty of days I get way more.

      And then there are days like today . . . a pitiful amount of steps, but I’ve also done yoga, shoveling, and plan to get on the stationary bike & do a little more yoga.

      Could I have been more active today? Of course. But people get really obsessed with an arbitrary number, and I’ve seen some people where it actually is harming them.

      I’ve also seen a lot of people who were really sick this winter & jumped back into exercise way too fast — only to get sicker. 😦

      I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with fitness trackers or challenging yourself, but many people take it too far — and often end up sidelined or hating activity — the exact opposite of what they were trying for!


      1. What I was saying is that some people need that extra carrot to get moving. So in that case, it’s a great motivator and challenge to try to reach a certain number. Many of my friends are not runners and not active enough.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I understood what you were saying.

        What I’m saying is a see a lot of people latch on to arbitrary goals — often because it’s touted as being healthy or because everyone is doing it — and not listen to their body. It usually doesn’t end well.

        What I’m not saying is that people shouldn’t strive to be more active — obviously. But make smart goals, goals that are right for their body, not something they just heard about or what is supposed to be healthy.

        Not always easy to separate the wheat from the chaff, though.


  2. I wear my Garmin all day every day and it has that step goal for me – I think 10,500 – or something like that. I don’t really pay too much attention to it. I mean, I do and I don’t. I’ll look at my steps because I’m curious but I don’t live my life by it. I’m busy enough that I pretty much meet the goal anyway but there are definitely days when I’m stuck in front of my computer banging out a research paper that my steps don’t make it. That said, I get up and move around the house and stretch, etc because I kinda have ADD when I’m writing and I need to take breaks. lol Also, the beginning of last week was AWFUL for steps. But, I needed the rest.

    I agree with Darlene about some people needing more motivation than others. What I think is worrisome are the people who, at 8pm, look at their watch and suddenly feel the need to do laps in their house to reach the “right” amount of steps. haha

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wear my Garmin 24/7. It adjusts the step goal depending on some algorithm of what you’ve been doing lately — and that’s not a bad thing, but of course it also is always pushing you to do more, more, more.

      I have been known to pace around the house when it reminds me I’ve been too sedentary. 🙂


  3. So my mom has just started wearing a fit bit and she is aiming for 10,000 steps a day and she tries not to get disappointed when she doesn’t hit those because some days she is over 10,000 so she likes to think it evens out. My Gamin calculates what my average steps have been so it says I should be getting around 15,000 based on my activity level so I try for that, but if I hit over 10,000 I’m happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like that my Vivoactive will adjust it based on what I’m actually doing. So while I was sick, the step goal went way down. But the truth is, I don’t really pay it much mind at all.

      The other thing I like about my Vivoactive is that it will remind me to move when I’ve been sitting too long. I pay more attention to that — although there are definitely days I ignore that, too.


  4. I’ve never had a Fitbit, and the only time I’d be curious about it is when I’m on vacation, exploring a new city. How may steps do I get on average while at Disney? Questions like that. I think daily goals are good, but people shouldn’t be too wrapped up in them when things can even out.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t have a step goal. I haven’t worn a Fitbit in years. My Garmin tracks my steps but I only wear it for run/bike/swim. If it motivates people to be active, great. I don’t need the motivation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, shoveling doesn’t get you a whole lot of steps – but it sure is a workout! And that’s why it ends up on my weekly wrap.

      I do like the fact that my Vivoactive reminds me to move. I can also sit for too long at times.


  6. I have often wondered where the 10K step goal came from as well. It’s a huge number that will seem very intimidating so those who are sedentary. It’s even intimidating to many who are already active but have never counted their steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My Garmin does the same thing — which is good, but if you’re on a roll, it can just keep going up, up, up! Not necessarily a good thing.

      I like to be reminded when I’ve been sedentary for too long; otherwise I tend to ignore the “goal”.


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