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20,000 Steps a Day: Benefits, Burned Calories and Mileage
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20,000 Steps a Day: Benefits, Burned Calories and Mileage

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield | Medically reviewed by Medically reviewed by Rosmy Barrios, MD check
Published on 2022 September 26
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10 min

Today, we discuss why you need to walk 20,000 steps. But is it truly worth spending time on, and are there any notable benefits? Let us find out one step at a time.

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Exercising is one thing that health practitioners constantly preach about as a mandatory activity for everyone, irrespective of their age, sex, and physical condition. There are different types and levels of exercise, meaning you indeed will find the one for you. 

Walking is one of the easiest physical activities out there. As a primary form of exercise, this physical activity creates many positive changes, including weight loss, better sleep, and an improved cardiovascular system.

However, how do you go about this exercise to see these positive benefits? Today, we look at if walking 20,000 steps a day is a great idea or not. Is it a real challenge, and how can it transform your overall health for the better? Walk with us as we go through the details.  

How Many Calories Do 20,000 Steps Burn?

You must consider multiple factors when ascertaining the number of calories burned when you take a 20,000-step walk. These factors include body weight, workout intensity, and duration. Thus, a 20,000-step walk will see you burn between 600 and 1000 calories. 

In retrospect, A 125-pound person will burn about 135 calories during a 30-minute walk at 4 miles per hour, and a 155-pound person with the same walking speed will burn 175 calories.

Granted, you can increase the number of calories burned by increasing your pace. However, it would be best to use a calorie counter to get the exact amount of calories you burn at the end of your 20,000 steps.

How Many Miles Are 20,000 Steps?

The distance covered walking 20,000 steps depends on many personal factors like your walking speed, sex, height, stride length, route, and fitness level. As such, the distance will vary from person to person. However, on average, 20,000 steps account for walking approximately 10 miles.

To understand this better, take, for example, two persons, one 5’4 and the other 5’6. If the 5’4 person has a 2.2 feet stride length, they will cover a distance of 8.5 miles with 20,000 steps. If the 5’6 person has a 2.5 feet stride length, they will cover 9.2 miles with 20,000 steps.

If said persons were to walk 4 miles per hour, it would take them about 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete this daily routine. 

Still, it might be a bit difficult logging in 20,000 steps every single day, especially if you live an extremely busy life. In contrast, research reveals that the average American logs 3,000–4,000 daily steps. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in conjunction with the U.S Department of Health and Human Services, adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity and 2 days of strength training weekly. 

With a 5 days per week routine, you get 30 minutes of physical activity each day, coupled with 2 days of strength training. You can even go up to 300 minutes weekly to gain more benefits. Thus, it would help if you made special preparations to total your daily steps. 

The best way to achieve this is to break down your walks into sections and spread them throughout the day. Still, you cannot just go from walking 4,000 steps a day to 20,000.

Have a good idea of your daily average, and then slowly add more steps until you get comfortable and reach your goal.

5 Benefits of 20,000 Steps a Day

Walking 20,000 steps a day is quite the task for anybody. Still, you gain many health benefits when you commit to your exercises, whether cardiovascular or strength training. This exercise caters to heart health, mental health, weight management, and many others.

On that note, we take a quick look at 5 health benefits you get when you commit to logging in 20,000 steps every single day.

#1 Promotes weight loss

Walking is one of the best tools to employ when it comes to weight loss because it allows you to burn calories. Taking 20,000 steps every day increases your metabolism and pushes your body to burn more calories and shed stubborn belly fat.

But, at the end of the day, totaling 20,000 steps daily will not lead to efficient weight loss. For that, you must pair your walk with a healthy diet. 

#2 Improves sleep quality

According to a study, an estimated 50–70 million Americans suffer from recurrent sleep loss and sleep disorder, which hinders daily functioning and negatively affects health and longevity. Similarly, over 30 million Americans age 30 and above turn to over-the-counter drugs to get better sleep.  

Walking, in general, is a great fix for this as you feel exhausted after your workout, forcing your body to shut down faster and longer, something you will absolutely love, especially if you are a morning person.

In hindsight, getting better sleep helps you feel sharper, gives more energy, improves your immune system, boosts cognitive abilities, and enhances productivity. 

#3 Improves cardiovascular system

Poor heart health is one of the biggest issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle. Being inactive can result in the build-up of fats, cholesterol, and other substances on the inner walls of the arteries. 

Clogged arteries result in partial or complete axing of blood flow, raising the chances of cardiovascular diseases such as stroke, heart attack, and heart failure, all of which can become fatal. 

Your daily 20,000-step walk will combat that by strengthening your heart muscles, improving blood pressure, and increasing heart and metabolic rate.

#4 Boosts mood

Walking 20,000 steps covers quite the distance, and this goes a long way in improving your mood and overall brain function. 

According to research from Harvard, walking helps cater to depression, anxiety, stress, and other mental issues, going as far as stalling the use of antidepressant drugs. That is because it elicits the release of endorphins, a hormone tasked with dealing with pain and stress. 

Similarly, spending quality time outdoors, flourishing in the fresh air, will significantly improve your attention span, memory, creativity, and energy levels. 

#5 Introduces challenge

Walking 20,000 steps a day is a fun way to challenge yourself, especially if your current lifestyle is borderline sedentary. Research shows that the average American spends 93% of their lives cooped up inside their homes, which can lead to unfavorable circumstances.

This walking workout revamps your focus and alertness as it stokes your heart to provide more oxygen-rich blood to the brain. More blood equals better brain function, which also equals better physical performance.  

So, if you maintain that inner monologue on how to combat living a sedentary lifestyle, opt for this exercise. It is an excellent alternative to sweating it out at the gym, and it is easy and a great way to commune with nature.

What Are the Possible Side Effects of Stepping 20,000 Steps a Day?

At first glance, not many side effects are attributed to taking 20,000 steps a day. Yes, walking 20,000 steps every day is generally pain-free and will help cater to abdominal obesity, positive mood changes, and heart health. However, it does come with a fair share of cons.

In that regard, we have outlined 3 negatives linked with walking 20,000 steps every day.

#1 Time-consuming

Walking 20,000 steps is inherently time-consuming compared to other exercises that offer similar health benefits. 

Most of us spend our days preoccupied with one task or the other and barely have enough time for ourselves. Squeezing in 2 hours of walking, even if it is during our free time, might seem like a counter-intuitive idea.

However, you can bypass this by walking with other people. Interacting with like-minded people during your work helps ease the feeling of loneliness and boredom, tricking your brain into thinking time passed by quicker than it did. 

#2 Increased appetite

Fatigue and exhaustion are not all you have to worry about walking 20,000 steps daily. You typically struggle with hunger each time you attempt and complete this challenge. 

Still, you do not want to fall victim to eating too much since you can quickly eclipse your daily calorie requirement. If you feel hungry, make sure you are not overeating; otherwise, if you are worried, stick to drinking more water.  

#3 Takes time to see results

According to research on women’s health, it takes about 12 weeks to see results from walking. The desired changes, such as weight loss and muscle development, happen progressively.

However, positive changes, including enhanced mood and lowered stress levels, happen from day one of your exercise. That is if you are fit enough to take on 20,000 steps.  

How Can I Increase the Number of Steps?

The average American adult takes about 3,000 to 4,000 steps daily, which accounts for 1.5 to 2 miles of journeying. So, completing the day challenge, leaping from 4,000 to 20,000, is pretty impressive, no matter what angle you view it.

Then again, for the average person, there are ways to significantly improve your daily step count. 

Walk everywhere

If you are serious about completing the 20,000 steps a day challenge, you can make several lifestyle changes to support your goal. At the forefront of these changes would be cutting down the time spent on public transport.

Going to work, lunch break, running errands, trips to the mall or park, etc., are all avenues to spend time walking. By doing so, you can squeeze more walking time into your daily schedule and reach your step count goal for the day. 

However, if you must enter public transport because of the distance, try alighting at an earlier stop and then walking the rest of the distance. Who knows, you might just discover a really good cafe or restaurant on your way.

Overall, you can significantly improve your step count by shortening your time using public transportation. You also get to cut down on travel costs and push the money into other areas. 

Find walking buddies

Walking with like-minded people will help curb boredom and motivate you to keep up with this daily routine. So, get in touch with people with similar workout interests, whether it is your best friend, colleague, significant other, or anyone willing to go on long walks and enjoy scenic locations.

That is because, although logging in 20,000 steps is time-consuming, you lose all sense of time and feel less tired as you converse, which is usually the opposite when you walk alone.

Take the stairs

If possible, avoid using the elevators and escalators and take the stairs instead. Using the stairs in your commute can rapidly increase your total steps. Another bonus point for climbing stairs is that it is great for weight loss and building leg muscles.

Get the right gear

Investing in proper gear is one of the best things you can do for yourself concerning maximizing your walking workouts. If you use improper gear, chances are your walks will be uncomfortable and short. 

On one side, the wrong shoes can lead to blisters, black toenails, soft tissue injury, and foot pain, while tightly fitted clothes restrict your range of motion. Conversely, a good pair of shoes, a loose shirt, and shorts will give you the freedom to walk for extended periods. 

Utilize a step tracker

Different types of step trackers are available in today’s fitness market. You can opt for the wearable version like the famed fitness watch or the health app version; whatever you choose, they accurately measure the number of steps.

Furthermore, many step counters also provide users with relevant information such as heart rate, location, calories (intake and burned), blood pressure, and body composition. That is why they are relevant in tracking progress and making workout adjustments.

If you are having trouble getting your total steps, you need to try out the Walking.Diet plan. 

Walking.Diet caters to anyone unable to partake in any other exercise besides walking, allowing them the opportunity to make any necessary lifestyle change to propel them toward that 20,000-step goal.

The plan’s developers specifically created it to serve beginners and walking experts, granting them access to several customized workout plans, including warm-up and cool-down exercises. Users also benefit from countless recipes, meal prep options, and educational tidbits. 

A Word From Our Coach

A walk of 20,000 steps a day is a marvelous way to reduce belly fat, lose weight, tone your legs, clear your mind, and promote good health without needing fancy, expensive workout programs.

Still, it would help if you were not precarious about your exercise routines. That is because consistency is the only way for you to see positive results. Coupled with a proper diet, you will surely reach your fitness goals.

Before you venture into any workout routine, get in touch with a personal coach to ensure you are doing things right. So many factors go into proper exercise execution, and doing the opposite could result in multiple injuries, and you do not want that.

FAQs

Are 20,000 steps a day good for weight loss?

Yes, taking 20,000 steps every day works wonders for your weight loss journey, as you will burn between 135 to 175 calories.

How to relieve calf pain after walking 20K steps?

An excellent way to go about this is using compression bandages. They help restore blood flow to your calves, thereby relieving pains.

How many steps is it recommended to do per day?

For the most part, the benchmark for how many steps to take a day ranks at 10,000. However, you are free to add more steps based on your fitness levels and workout goals.

Conclusion

Unlike other exercises, walking 20,000 steps a day comes with no extra cost! Coupled with its many health benefits, it makes sense why you should add this to your routine, especially if you live a busy life.

Yes, there are negatives drawn to this exercise, but ultimately, the pros outweigh the cons. As such, go to the nearby store, grab a solid pair of walking shoes and some comfortable clothes, and start stepping. 

An active lifestyle plus a healthy diet will improve your overall well-being.

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
Medically reviewed byRosmy Barrios, MD
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