Many people, especially those who want to lose weight and feel healthy, think of walking 5 miles a day or 10,000 steps as the gold standard.
Experts have looked into 10,000 steps effect and say that people would see the physical and mental health benefits of walking even by just doing 7,500 steps.
However, increasing this to 15,000 steps a day won’t protect people from gaining weight unless they diet or reduce their food intake.
In this study, 120 students were asked to do 10,000, 12,500, or 15,000 steps per day for six days, over nearly six months.
In the meantime, the research team kept measuring participants’ weight and their daily calorie intake.
The team found that the recommended 10,000 steps per day didn’t prevent weight gain in students.
In fact, even if they increased the walks to 15,000 steps this didn’t stop participants putting on weight.
On average, they gained 1.5 kg (3.5 lbs) over the six month period of the study.
Professor Bruce Bailey, the study’s first author, said:
“Exercise alone is not always the most effective way to lose weight.
If you track steps, it might have a benefit in increasing physical activity, but our study showed it won’t translate into maintaining weight or preventing weight gain.”
Despite the fact that increasing steps didn’t matter for maintaining weight, this routine physical activity provided several emotional and health benefits.
One obvious positive effect was that sedentary time decreased by 77 minutes per day in the 15,000-step group.
Professor Bailey said:
“The biggest benefit of step recommendations is getting people out of a sedentary lifestyle.
Even though it won’t prevent weight gain on its own, more steps is always better for you.”
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was published in the Journal of Obesity (Bailey et al., 2019).