I've been walking 10,000 steps every day for the past year—here's why I think it's the best thing you can do for your health

Walking improved my fitness and boosted my mental health

A smiling woman walking in front of colorful beach hut doors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Around a year ago, I was looking for a way to improve my health and stop myself from going stir-crazy while working from home. I started walking 10,000 steps every day and it had a huge impact on my wellbeing. To my surprise, it's something I've stuck with and it's improved my life in many ways.

You've probably heard that walking 10,000 steps a day is a good goal to aim for. But if you work at a desk all day, 10,000 steps might sound like a lot. And if you tried to do it all in one go, it would feel like a lot—according to Nuffield Health, it would take around one hour and 40 minutes.

I’ve found that making time for shorter walks is the best way to hit that number. Whether it's getting out for 15 minutes for some alone time before I start my day, putting my favorite playlist on for a lunchtime walk, or opting to walk to my destination instead of taking public transport, these walking moments have become something I look forward to.

Changing my mindset towards walking has had fantastic benefits for my mental and physical health. Here are some of the reasons I make 10,000 steps a priority.

1. It improved my mental health

I used to get stressed working from home, feeling cooped up within the walls of my living room. Prioritizing getting out of the house, whatever the weather, ensures I take some time away from my laptop, which has significantly improved my mental health.

I usually listen to my favorite music or a podcast or sometimes I'll use the time to catch up with friends over the phone, so it's become time I really look forward to.

2. My cardio fitness improved

I work out regularly and play sports once or twice a week but walking 10,000 steps a day has improved my fitness even more. Thanks to my additional daily strolls, I don't get as out of breath while doing cardio and I have far more stamina in everyday life and during exercise.

3. My weight has stayed at a steady level

I don’t weigh myself regularly, instead prioritizing a solid exercise regime and appropriate nutrition. I’m still aware of fluctuations in my weight, but walking 10,000 steps keeps my weight steady. The added activity means that even on days I skip the gym, I still burn a good amount of calories.

4. I fall asleep more easily

Before I started walking regularly, I'd often get into bed and struggle to relax and fall asleep. I now nod off quickly, as long as I've hit my 10,000 steps. On days when I don't manage 10,000 steps, I feel wired and irritable around bedtime. This always motivates me to hit my step count the next day.

5. My lower-body muscular endurance has improved

Although walking 10,000 steps a day hasn't increased muscle mass in my legs—I use strength training routines like this lower-body dumbbell workout to help me do that—it has helped me maintain and improve muscular endurance.

I’ve noticed my legs don't get as tired during lower-body gym sessions or when I'm running. After days at festivals or traveling, my legs and feet don't get as sore as the people I'm with and I can walk for longer and with less discomfort.

These are all positive changes I’ve seen since I committed to hitting 10,000 steps a day and why I plan to stick to it.

See all our tried-and-tested picks in this guide to the best walking shoes.

Alice Porter
Freelancer Writer

Alice Porter is a freelance journalist covering lifestyle topics including health, fitness and wellness. She is particularly interested in women's health, strength training and fitness trends and writes for publications including Stylist Magazine, Refinery29, The Independent and Glamour Magazine. Like many other people, Alice's personal interest in combining HIIT training with strength work quickly turned into a CrossFit obsession and she trains at a box in south London. When she's not throwing weights around or attempting handstand push-ups, you can probably find her on long walks in nature, buried in a book or hopping on a flight to just about anywhere it will take her.