Walking 5000 Steps A Day: Health Benefits + How To Get Started

Is 5000 daily steps enough to improve your health?

Although many pedometers, fitness watches, and health professionals use 10000 steps a day as the magic number for your daily step count to decrease your risk of disease, there are still health benefits of walking less.

Walking 5000 steps per day is an approachable goal for many beginners, and although you can improve your health and fitness even more if you increase your steps, walking 5000 steps a day is a great place to start.

In this article, we will discuss how to walk 5000 steps a day, the calories burned for potential weight loss, and the benefits of adding this number of steps to your daily routine.

Two people walking and laughing together.

How Many Miles Is 5000 Steps A Day?

If you’re a beginner, a step goal of 5000 steps daily can sound like a lot, but how far is 5000 steps?

If you walk 5000 steps per day, the distance you will walk depends on your step length, which is the distance from where one foot lands to where the next foot lands or how much ground you cover for each step.

Step length or average stride length (the distance covered by one complete gait cycle or right foot to right foot landing again) depends on numerous factors such as height, age, sex, walking speed, fitness level, and the terrain you’re walking on.

Of these, height tends to be the most significant. If you picture a short child and a tall adult walking side by side, it becomes easy to envision how a taller person with longer legs can take longer steps or strides.

Many fitness pedometers and watches1Barreira†, T., Rowe‡, D., & Kang‡, M. (2010). Parameters of Walking and Jogging in Healthy Young Adults. International Journal of Exercise Science3(1). https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijes/vol3/iss1/2/ use a default average step length of 2.2 feet (0.67 meters) for women and 2.5 feet (0.762 meters) for men, which can be converted to 4.4 feet and 5 feet for the average stride length for women and men, respectively.

According to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center,2STRIDE ANALYSIS. (n.d.). Ouhsc.edu. https://ouhsc.edu/bserdac/dthompso/web/gait/knmatics/stride.htm the average step length for women is approximately 26 inches, and the average stride length is 52 inches. In contrast, the average step length for men is approximately 31 inches, and the average stride length is 62 inches.

Because a mile is 5,280 feet, the average man takes 2,000 steps per mile, and the average woman takes about 2,437 steps per mile.

Therefore, if you walk 5000 steps a day, a typical man will walk about 2.5 miles, while a woman might walk just over 2 miles.

People walking in a park.

How Many Calories Do You Burn Walking 5000 Steps a Day?

The number of calories you burn walking depends on numerous factors, including how long you walk, the speed or intensity of your walk (leisurely vs. brisk walking), the incline or gradient, your body weight, whether you carry a pack, your age, and your sex.

Wearing a fitbit or fitness watch with a heart rate monitor can give you the best approximation of the calories you burn walking because you can see the distance and relative intensity of your walk and your speed.

However, without that information, it’s possible to estimate the number of calories burned walking using the METs for walking at different speeds.

Below, we’ve created a table that shows the calories burned walking 5000 steps at different paces and body weights based on the METs values from the Compendium of Physical Activities.32011 Compendium of Physical Activities. (n.d.). https://download.lww.com/wolterskluwer_vitalstream_com/PermaLink/MSS/A/MSS_43_8_2011_06_13_AINSWORTH_202093_SDC1.pdf

‌We used the average step length of 31 inches, so 5000 steps is 2.5 miles.

A person walking up stairs.
Weight (lbs)Weight (kg)Calories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 2.8-3.2 mph Calories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 3.5 mph Calories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 4.0 mphCalories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 4.5 mphCalories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 2.9–3.5 mph at 1-5% GradeCalories Burned Walking 5000 Steps a Day at 2.9–3.5 mph at 6-15% Grade
A person walking 5000 steps.

Is Walking 5000 Steps a Day Enough for Health?

Most of the health messages we hear are that you should aim to walk 10000 steps per day, which is roughly equal to five miles.

The good news is that even if you only walk 5000 steps a day, you are still significantly reducing your risk of dying prematurely and cardiovascular disease.

One recent study4Lee, I.-M., Shiroma, E. J., Kamada, M., Bassett, D. R., Matthews, C. E., & Buring, J. E. (2019). Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women. JAMA Internal Medicine179(8), 1105–1112. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.0899 found that walking 4,400 steps per day reduces the risk of death by 41% compared to walking fewer than 2,700 steps per day.

The risk of premature death continues declining until about 7,500 steps per day when it levels off.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC),5Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). How Much Physical Activity do Adults Need? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. adults should aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise per week to reduce the risk of lifestyle diseases such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and certain cancers.

A group power walking.

How Long Does It Typically Take To Walk 5000 Steps?

For the average person, this works out to walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and 5000 steps will take 30 minutes or more.

Although there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” time of day to walk, it is often easier to establish a habit if you are consistent with your regular walking schedule.

Additionally, if you are struggling with motivation or need help structuring beginner walking workouts and how to walk 5000 steps a day, a 30-day walking challenge can be a great way to get started and establish a consistent habit.

Overall, walking 5000 steps a day is a fantastic way to jumpstart a healthy exercise routine and pull you out of your sedentary lifestyle.

Take it one step at a time, one day at a time. You’ll be rewarded by how good you begin to feel and how your physical and mental health improves, motivating you to keep at it.

If you have any medical concerns before starting your new exercise journey, speak with your healthcare provider for clearance. You can also work with a personal trainer to add other types of exercise to your lifestyle.

Ready for our 30-day walking challenge? Let’s go!

People walking on treadmills.


Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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