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Walking is an easy, effective way to boost heart, mental health

How many steps per day should you take? Depends on your age and abilities

By Deb Balzer, Mayo Clinic News Network
Published: September 15, 2023, 12:35pm

Walking is an inexpensive form of exercise that many people of various abilities and ages can do. What about those 10,000 steps a day that many fitness apps recommend?

Dr. Francisco Lopez-Jimenez, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says there is no magic number of steps per day that people should strive for because everyone is different. What matters most, he says, is that people are moving.

“Walking is perhaps the easiest, most affordable and one of the most effective types of physical activity humans can do,” said Lopez-Jimenez.

How many daily steps should you take? It depends.

“For a 25- to 30-year-old person, walking 6,000 steps a day is probably too little, whereas for an 85-year-old person, walking 5,000 steps is actually very good,” he said.

And make walking part of your daily routine. Use the stairs, walk your dog or park away from the store entrance.

“People should be walking every day, even for a few minutes at a time, and even if it is just 15 or 20 minutes,” said Lopez-Jimenez.

Take a break from your desk and take a walk. It’s good for your head and heart.

“Walking has many beneficial effects on our health — not just cardiovascular but even mental health,” he said.

Tips to add more steps

  • Take the dog for a walk or find a walking buddy.
  • Head to the mall.
  • Include the family.
  • Walk while waiting.
  • Schedule workday walks.
  • Park farther away.
  • Take the stairs.
  • Set personal goals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get 150 minutes of weekly physical activity. There are different goals for people of different ages and abilities.