I walked 10,000 steps a day for a month — here’s what happened

a photo of a woman walking
(Image credit: Getty/FreshSplash)

When it comes to weird and wonderful TikTok challenges, I’ve tried them all — from the 12-3-30 workout to hot girl walks, I’m always on the lookout for what’s trending, and recently the 10,000 steps a day challenge caught my attention. 

Of course, this is nothing new — walking 10,000 steps per day has been a go-to goal for anyone trying to up their movement for years. But in recent months, TikTokers have been sharing their results from following the challenge, so I dug out my walking shoes and gave it a go for 30 days. 

The challenge is to take 10,000 steps per day, whether outside, or on a treadmill, whatever the weather. Like the hot girl walks, the focus of the challenge isn’t on speed or pace, but on moving your body, and getting some daily exercise. Some people have even been sharing home walking workouts, where you walk on the spot to help you reach your goal. 

Whether you’re walking for weight loss or just re-thinking your commute to work, there are a number of benefits to increasing your daily step count. Take a look at all of the different ways walking for 30 minutes per day can benefit your health here. We’ve also found the best under-desk treadmills for upping your miles as you work, and apps that allow you to get paid to walk. It’s important to remember though, that if you’re a complete beginner, or you’re returning to exercise from injury, you should check with your doctor before taking on any fitness challenge. 

How far is 10,000 steps in miles? 

Most of the best fitness trackers on the market will track your steps, but if you’re not ready to invest in one, you can pick up a pedometer relatively cheaply. But how far, in miles, is 10,000 steps?

The answer is around five miles. Most people walk with a stride length of approximately 2.1 to 2.5 feet, so it would take more than 2,000 steps before they reached a mile. Obviously, the taller you are, the longer your stride is likely to be. 

Can walking 10,000 steps a day help you lose weight? 

If you’re trying to lose weight, 10,000 steps per day is a good goal. According to the American Council on Exercise, the average person who hits that daily number will burn up to 3,500 calories per week. 

It is worth noting that the target of 10,000 steps (it seems a little neat, right?) began as a piece of marketing in 1965 by a Japanese company that was about to introduce a device called a Manpo-kei (it means 10,000-steps meter). However, it is a useful goal — a review of 32 studies, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity found that “10,000 steps/day is a reasonable target for healthy adults.”

I walked 10,000 steps a day for a month — here’s what happened 

As a runner, a fitness editor and a dog walker, reaching 10,000 steps a day wasn’t too challenging. I start my day with a three-mile walk with my over-active cocker spaniel, so I was already a chunk of the way there before settling down at my desk. I’m also pretty short (5 foot 1), so I have a relatively short stride. For once, my height was on my side with this challenge. 

A week or so into the challenge, I decided I wanted to try and walk more than 15,000 steps per day and to actively think about skipping opportunities to jump in the car or on the bus, swapping these journeys for walks. I also thought about my form when I walked and tried to pick up the pace. Good walking form involves holding your head up, engaging your core, and keeping your steps underneath your body to avoid overstriding. I found that thinking about squeezing my abs as I walked really helped me work my core as I moved. 

I also found that I needed to invest in a proper pair of walking shoes or comfortable hiking boots. I opted for the Skechers Go Walk Workout Walker for most of my walks on the sidewalk, but soon realized that I’ll need to buy a pair of the best hiking boots for winter miles — trying to reach 10,000 steps in gumboots was not comfortable. 

If you get bored easily, I’d recommend listening to podcasts or audiobooks to pass the time, plus choosing new places to walk — I’ve used the AllTrails app to find walks in new locations to mix things up at the weekends.

What did I learn after a month of more than 10,000 steps per day? I really enjoy walking, especially outside. On days when my dog went to his dog walker, I missed my morning walks in the woods and got off the Tube a stop early to try and fit some steps in before getting to the office. I didn't notice much of a change in my body, but I wasn't trying to lose weight. 

All that walking did help me feel more focused and less stressed. It’s definitely now become a part of my routine, and a part I love.

Next: I used this app for two weeks and made money just by walking my dog.

Jane McGuire
Fitness editor

Jane McGuire is Tom's Guide's Fitness editor, which means she looks after everything fitness related - from running gear to yoga mats. An avid runner, Jane has tested and reviewed fitness products for the past five years, so knows what to look for when finding a good running watch or a pair of shorts with pockets big enough for your smartphone. When she's not pounding the pavements, you'll find Jane striding round the Surrey Hills, taking far too many photos of her puppy.