21K Steps per Day Challenge Completed! 10K Steps per Day: Myths & Facts

Alas, I finished my 21k steps per day challenge!  Yahoo! This was a great experience but not without plenty of obstacles.  In the midst of doing 21k steps per day, I started to see a bunch of articles with misleading headlines and less than informative content.  The articles’ titles typically read something like, “Do you really need 10,000 steps per day?”  Wait, I’ve been doing 21,000, are you kidding me?  I needed to do some research.  More on what I discovered in a bit, first let’s look at results.

Both my client and I achieved our goals.  She walked 10k steps per day for 21 days consistently and I walked 21k steps per day for 21 days.  Now, she is feeling good and going to continue to try and maintain her 10k per day. I’m super exited for her.  Me well, not so much.

Almost doubling my step count every day for 21 days was a real challenge.  It certainly helped to break it down into 3 sets of 7.  It helped that I have been blogging about it, so I have a sea of accountability partners.  But on day 16, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  I looked at the treadmill with dread in my eyes thinking, “I can’t!”  And that was just day 16!  Again, it was truly a function of mind over matter and digging deep.  Today, I am so happy I kept going.  It feels good.


This week I averaged 9.61 miles per day and 877 active minutes.  My active minutes do count things other than walking or running. They include time lifting weights, rowing, and yoga.  I lost 2 pounds this week, bringing my total weight loss to 6 pounds.  I’ll take it!

Final 7

Everyone is asking do we really need 10k steps a day?

The short answer is no. Wait!  Before you go curling up on the sofa with your remote and some popcorn, there is a bit more to it.

I certainly got into the weeds trying to do the research.  One path led me down another and another.  A very recent study that was led by a team from Brigham and Women’s Hospital was published in JAMA Internal Medicine.  The results of the study showed that an increase in steps does have some health benefits; however the benefits seem to plateau at 7500 steps.  HOLD ON, there is more.  This study was comprised of a large sample of women, whose average age was 72.  The study was an “observational” study and the investigators say that more research would need to be done and done on a larger, more diverse section of the population.

Many have claimed that the 10000 steps per day idea was derived from a marketing campaign by a Japanese manufacturer of pedometers.  Although this company may have used the 10000 steps per day in their marketing there is a lot more to it.  It was years of research that had to be proved before the campaign could begin. Learn more here.

So what should we focus on?

Just like the telephone game we used to play as children, the more things are repeated the more diluted and changed they can become.  Ultimately the Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 active minutes per week.  That equates to about 30 minutes of walking briskly, five times per week.

It is less about steps and more about being active.  Whether you swim, bike, hike, run, do yoga, or martial arts, it doesn’t matter as long as you are active.

Prior to this Challenge I averaged 332 active minutes per week.  Over the last three weeks I have averaged 868 active minutes per week. That equates to about 124 active minutes per day.  Can I keep this up?  No. However, I do like how I am feeling overall.

Experienced Benefits & Adjustments

  • Improved sleep
  • 6 pound weight loss
  • Less anxiety
  • Improved mood
  • Increased libido

These are all great positives I experienced while increasing my steps and I want to hang on to them! However, I’m aware that my body needs one day off per week.  Taking a day off and allowing myself one day of a less intense workout gives me the energy and mental strength to do 5 more intense workouts throughout the week.

Prior to starting this challenge I was averaging 11,678 steps per day and 332 active minutes per week. I just proved I can do much better but I don’t think it is sustainable over the long term.  My goals for the rest of the year is to keep my step count (I do use steps because I like to run and hike) to 15,000 per day and my overall active minutes to over 500 per week.  I believe that is sustainable and I like how I am feeling mentally and physically!  And Emma has been enjoying her smaller walks as well!

emma 21

Take Away

  • Active minutes are key
  • Set your goal and tell people
  • Breakdown your long-term goal into smaller achievable goals (daily or weekly)
  • Don’t beat yourself up for running into obstacles.  Life happens. Keep going.
  • Have an accountability partner.  (This really helps)!

What would you like to challenge yourself to do for 21 days in 3 sets of 7?  Increase your steps? Increase your exercise? Decrease your time on social media? Form a habit? Quit a habit?  Let me know, I would love to hear from you and support you with your goals! Comment, like, share, commit!!

It’s all about your success!

Sarah Stewart, MSW, CPC

Life Coach and Author

Find my books here!

And now three!

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