Blog Fitness 20000 Steps A Day Weight Loss Challenge: Shed Those Pounds One Step At A Time

20000 Steps A Day Weight Loss Challenge: Shed Those Pounds One Step At A Time

When it comes to walking for weight loss, many of us automatically set a challenge to walk 10,000 steps a day. While there is nothing wrong with this, have you ever considered that a 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan could work just as well if not even better than doing 10,000 steps?

Keep reading to find out how many steps you need to walk to lose weight, what walking every day can do for you, how you can manage to walk 10 miles a day, and much more.

How Many Steps a Day to Lose Weight?

Fun fact: Did you know that the first pedometer/step counter was actually invented by Leonardo Da Vinci? Over the years, this invention went through many changes as pedometers were modernized to help count steps to distances between landmarks in major cities and determine the distance and pace used by marching armies.

Regarding how many steps you need to take in a day to lose weight, many people will automatically say 10,000 steps. However, this doesn’t actually have any scientific backing to it.

In a study that was published in 2019, researchers found an average of just 4,400 steps a day could actually help older women lose weight. Increasing the steps to 7,500 a day helped improve mortality rates (4).

According to an article by The Washington Post, the notion that we need to walk 10,000 steps a day actually came about thanks in part to the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics and one researcher’s brilliant marketing strategy (9). Soon after the Olympics, a Japanese company designed their first step counter.

To get people to be more active and buy their new product, the company used the slogan “10,000 steps per day” as a means of marketing their step counter. The strategy worked and today, almost 60 years after this slogan was coined, people continue to echo the slogan as the answer to the question of how many steps you need to walk in a day for better health and weight loss (18).

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So how many steps should you take each day to lose weight and improve your health? 

According to the researchers in the above mentioned study, increasing your daily steps by a mere 2,000 can lead to positive health outcomes, particularly if you lead a sedentary lifestyle (4). 

As there is no specific equation that determines how many steps equate to how many calories burned, it is advised to concentrate on your walking pace. So, a 155-pound person who walks at (6):

  • 3.5 miles per hour (mph) will burn approximately 266 calories in a hour
  • 4 mph = 350 calories burned in an hour

The faster you walk, the more calories you will burn and the more steps you take, the better it will be for your health. Make it your goal to safely walk more briskly and cover more distance by walking more steps in a day.

20000 steps a day weight loss  

Is Walking 20,000 Steps a Day Good for Weight Loss?

Yes, it can be. 

From the numbers above, it can be seen that walking helps burn calories, which can equate to weight loss. Also, the faster and further you walk, the more calories you will burn. Therefore, a walking 20,000 steps a day weight loss plan could be a fantastic idea for anyone who wants to get rid of those stubborn extra pounds. 

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However, if you are typically sedentary, or quite unfit, it would be sensible to aim for a lower target that is more suitable to your individual level. To determine where you lie in terms of physical activity and how much you currently walk, the  Tudor-Locke and Bassett steps per day classification can be used. This states that (18, 13):

  • Fewer than 5,000 steps a day = Sedentary lifestyle
  • 5000 to 7499 steps a day with typical daily activity excluding sports/exercise = Low active/physically active
  • 7,500 to 9999 steps = Moderately active, as it more likely includes some volitional activities and/or elevated occupational activity demands
  • 10000 steps = Physically active
  • 12,500 or more steps a day = Very active individuals

What Are the Health Benefits of Walking 20,000 Steps a Day?

While weight loss is the most common reason why many people would choose to do a 20000 steps a day weight loss challenge, it is not the only benefit. Here are some other advantages to trying this challenge:

  • Reduced belly fat. Leading a sedentary life has been linked to   greater waist circumference (19). If you have realized that your clothes have started getting tighter around your belly, then walking 20000 steps a day can help combat this. 

One 2014 study showed that participants burned an average of 400 calories while walking for 50 to 70 minutes a day, 3 days a week for 12 weeks. While the steps in this study were not counted, taking up a walking 20000 steps a day weight loss challenge could help lead to a loss in subcutaneous and visceral adiposity (fat) (7).

We might not be able to determine 20000 steps a day calories burned per person, but we can guarantee that this exercise will burn energy allowing you to shed not only belly fat but overall body weight and fat

  • A great way to relieve stress. One of the best ways to relieve stress is through exercise. If you have been feeling like your mental health is declining, challenge yourself and try walking 20,000 steps a day for 30 days.

While you do not necessarily have to walk all 20k steps each day, seeing the number of steps increase per day is rewarding and can boost serotonin. Getting out of the house too could also help combat bad thoughts and feelings.

20000 steps a day weight loss  

For better results, try combining walking and meditation (at the same time) as a way to combat stress. Try doing some mantra meditation by repeating your manta(s) or choice every few steps (15).

  • Improves lung health. Brisk walks help strengthen and increase lung capacity, which helps you breathe better and keeps your lungs healthier for longer (22).
  • It is a good workout for people with asthma. Because it is a low-intensity activity, it is a great workout for people with asthma as they can breath easily. 

It is also one of the workouts that has been shown to help improve asthma symptoms in the long term (5). If you are suffering from asthma, please first ask your doctor if 20000 steps a day weight loss exercise plan is a viable option for you.

Read more: 5000 Steps: Calories Burned, Benefits, and How to Set Up a Routine

  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke. Walking, especially at a brisk pace, increases your heart rate, strengthens your heart, and increases blood circulation through your body, bringing more oxygen and nutrients to your organs.

Researchers have found that walking reduces the risk of cardiovascular events by 31% and cuts the risk of dying by 32% (24).

  • Improves digestion. If you are struggling with bloating and/or constipation, try adding walking to your daily routine (2). One of the surprising 20000 steps a day results could end up being regular bowel movements and reduced bloating.
  • Improved balance. Lack of balance is a problem that bothers many older people. While they may not be able to walk 20000 steps a day, walking more could help improve their balance, reducing the risk of falling over and breaking bones as it helps build their lower body strength.
  • Strengthens your bones and may help slow bone loss.
  • Pain relief. People living with chronic pain can find extreme relief by taking brisk walks everyday (8). If you are dealing with a painful condition such as osteoarthritis, walking, while it may be painful at first, can help improve this condition and the chronic pain associated with it.
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Remember to first consult your doctor and if they give you a go ahead, start slow and work up to doing the 20000 steps a day weight loss plan.

  • Reduces risk of chronic illnesses. Walking regularly improves your overall health which translates to reduced risk of  chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, depression and some cancers.
  • Improve creativity, better sleep and posture (14, 21) – Walking daily will help reduce stress levels which will not only help you sleep better but if you are in a creative field, it could boost your creativity juices as well. 

Walking with good posture – tall and straight without arching your back, eyes forward and chin parallel to the ground, with shoulders back and relaxed – could also help give you better sitting posture

In conclusion, walking can improve cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, vascular stiffness and inflammation, and mental stress.

How To Start Walking Every Day?

Starting a 20000 steps a day weight loss challenge can be daunting, especially if you are new to it, i.e. don’t often walk a lot. However, this does not mean that you cannot do it. Here are some simple and unique ways that you can incorporate in your life to help you kickstart your walking 20000 steps a day weight loss goal.

  • Start small. It might seem quite obvious but many people starting the 20000 steps a day weight loss challenge will automatically set 20k steps a day as their goal.

If you are not used to walking this can be quite hard on you. Instead reduce your goal and work up to the ultimate long-term goal of 20000 steps. Start with 5000 and slowly work your way up increasing the number by 300 to 500 steps weekly.

  • Take the stairs. Be it at the office, in your apartment building, or at the mall, foregoing the elevator for some stairs is a simple yet challenging way to increase your steps, burn some calories, and work on your cardiovascular health.
  • Get a dog. Whether you choose to adopt or foster one, a dog can help you with your 20000 step a day weight loss goal because they always need to go out to do their business and are always excited to go outside and play. Dogs (and other pets) can also be good for your mental health
  • Allocate yourself moving breaks through-out the day. If you spend all day in front of your computer, chances are you don’t get to walk around much. 

In the same way we give ourselves study or work breaks to stretch or check out social media, why not use this time to take a short walk instead? Not only will this help add to your steps count, but it will also leave you feeling rejuvenated for your next reading/working sprint.

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20000 steps a day weight loss  

  • Park further away. We all know and understand the convenience of parking closer to your workplace. While parking further might look like an inconvenience, those few hundred or so steps can quickly add up, especially if you have to keep going back and forth to the car.
  • Walk to work/school. If your office or school is not that far away from home, leave the car at home and choose to walk if it is viable to do so. Doing this can be the boost you need to help you walk 10 miles a day. 

If you leave further from work and use public means, you can opt to alight further away from your usual station and walk to work thus adding up your steps for the day.

  • Invest in a treadmill desk. Standing desks are all the rage today but did you know that a treadmill desk might be better for you? It might be more expensive, but if you are dedicated to making your 20000 steps a day weight loss goals a reality, then you could consider getting a treadmill desk instead.

Not only does walking burn more calories than standing, but it also places less pressure on your back eliminating the issue of developing low back pain.

Please note – If you have balance, back, or joint problems, you should probably avoid this option. A treadmill desk may make your problems worse than they already are causing more pain and discomfort.

  • Play with your kids. Get your kids away from their electronic screens of choice and suggest a game of hide-and-seek or catch. You get to kill two birds with one stone like this – spend quality time with your children and make a dent in your step goals.

Allowing your children to play outside not only builds your relationship with them, but it also helps improve their motor skills, promotes creativity, curiosity and critical thinking and can also enforce positive behavior patterns (17).

  • Take a lap around the store. Take a lap around the grocery store or mall before you start shopping. You could also choose to visit a new grocery store. Not knowing where all the produce and items are located will definitely make you walk around more.
  • Don’t take in all your groceries in one go. How many times have you arrived in your kitchen with numb fingers because you didn’t want to take multiple trips from the car to the kitchen?

Instead of cutting the blood supply from your fingers by carrying all the bags at once, take multiple trips. Extra points to you if you have to go up and down the stairs for this. It might be tiring but the eventual health and physical benefits are certainly worth it.

  • Take the scenic route. Irrespective of where you are going, be it to the restroom, to a friend’s house, or walking to the store, take the longer, more challenging route there. You can also discover much more interesting things about your neighborhood/environment this way
  • Drink more water. Not only is it good for your skin and metabolism, but the act of walking to and from the bathroom for pee breaks will add to your daily steps. Remember, it is the small things that help you reach your goals.
  • Treat it like any other workout. Just because walking does not sound as daunting as lifting weights or running for weight loss does not mean that you should not treat it as a proper workout. Thinking of it as an actual workout rather than something you should do, could give you the motivation to walk more.
  • Make sure to plan. A 20000 steps a day weight loss goal a day is a lot. In most cases, you will not manage to get to 20k steps in one trip to work, the store, or to a friend’s house. 
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20000 steps a day weight loss  

Plan your days so that way you have ample time to walk throughout the day. You can do 10,000 steps in the morning and an extra 10,000 steps in the evening.

  • Ensure that you are safe. Be sure to walk in well lit areas -if you are walking at night or very early in the morning and always use routes that have a lot of people on them. Always remain alert.
  • Take rest days. Attempting to walk 20000 steps everyday is not good for your health or weight loss goals. 

Give yourself a one or two day break to allow your body, especially your legs time to rest. Walk as little as possible on these days – you can choose to binge watch your favourite shows, read a book, or just nap.

  • Fix your diet. Walking 20000 steps a day weight loss challenge will not matter if you are not eating in the right ways. Drop the overly processed foods, alcohol and sugary drinks, and count your calories.

If you want to completely overhaul your diet for something else, eating plans such as the Mediterranean diet (16), and plant-based diets such as a vegan or a vegetarian diet could be great options to try out that offer many positive health benefits (3) (1).

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How Many Miles Should I Walk A Day To Stay Healthy?

There is no specified number of miles that you should be walking to stay healthy. However, according to Harvard Medical School, we should try to walk for 30 to 45 minutes nearly every day to stay healthy (10). The number of miles you can cover in this time all depends on your stride length and how much effort you put into the activity.

According to a 2011 study by the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, healthy adults can take anywhere between approximately 4,000 and 18,000 steps a day (all dependent on how active they are) (12). 

If we assume that 10000 steps equals 4 to 5 miles (depending on stride length), healthy adults with shorter strides can walk anywhere between 1.6 to 7.2 miles a day. If we use this same calculation, choosing to walk 10 miles a day could equate to walking 20000 steps a day.

20000 Steps A Day Weight Loss Results: What To Expect?

If you choose to take on the 20000 steps a day weight loss plan, here are some things that you can expect to see:

  • Burning calories & weight loss. As stated, walking is an exercise like any other and thus depending on how much you weigh and how fast you walk, you can burn anywhere between 670 to 1000 calories a day by just taking 20000 steps (2). 
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Doing this consistently over time can help with weight loss and management. However, it’s important to remember that sustainable weight loss requires a multi-faceted approach that considers factors such as 

  1. Diet – Remove processed foods and drinks from your diet, avoid added sugars, and be sure to eat more vegetables, lean protein and complex carbs. 

Also ensure that you are drinking more water. Water not only keeps you hydrated while walking long distances, but it temporarily boosts metabolism which helps burn more calories.

  1. Sleep more – Lack of enough sleep leads to more production of cortisol and can lead to late night cravings/eating which will ruin your calorie deficit for weight loss
  2. Reduce stress levels.
  •  Improved focus and memory. Like any other kind of physical activity, it can help boost the brain’s dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin levels — all of which affect focus and attention (23).
  • Muscle gain/definition – Especially in your legs. While walking is a full body workout, the lower body, i.e the legs are what bear the brunt of this workout. Overtime, you will start to notice more muscle definition and gains in the legs and thighs.

20000 Steps A Day Challenge: How Long To See Results

If you are wondering how long it will take you to see results from your 20000 steps a day weight loss exercise plan, it might take anywhere from two weeks to a month. Remember that we don’t all lose weight at the same pace. 

Factors such as starting weight, calorie intake, food quality, sleep levels, stress levels, loss of water weight, and mode of measuring your weight can all affect the number you see on the scale.

Instead of looking at how much weight you are losing every morning or every week, choose to concentrate on getting in your steps daily and over time you will see changes in your weight, how your clothes fit, your overall health and more.

How Many Calories Burned Per Step?

There is no specific number that every person burns per step. It is best to look at the number of calories burned cumulatively at the end of your walking workout instead of a step-by-step count. 

Using a step counting app or inputting the distance and time walked in a reputable calorie counting/fitness can help determine how much energy you burn while doing this specific exercise and others.

Read more: Calories Burned In 20,000 Steps: Is It Enough for Weight Loss?

20000 steps a day weight loss  


  • Is 20,000 Steps A Day Realistic

No, it is not. At least not for a big chunk of the population. According to a study published in 2019, many people generally walk about 8,500 steps a day, with the very active people taking around 12,500 steps. Thus 20,000 is too much for many people to accomplish.

  • Is 20,000 Steps A Day Enough Exercise?

Yes, it is. Some would even consider 20000 steps a day too much exercise especially if done daily.

  • Is 20,000 Steps A Day Considered Active?

Yes, walking 20k steps a day is extremely active.

  • Is 40,000 Steps A Day Good?

No, it is not. While walking a lot does have a lot of benefits, walking 20,000 steps a day is too much for most people (11). Doubling this to 40,000 is definitely an impossibility. 

Remember that something as small as 2500 to 4000 steps a day can improve your cardiovascular health, improve both mental and physical health, lower weight, and much more (20).

The Bottom Line

A 20000 steps a day weight loss plan is a great low intensity workout that works great for anyone who does not wish to go to the gym but still wants to lose weight. Like every other workout plan, it works best if you plan and dedicate yourself to the process.

Aside from weight loss, this workout plan can also help build discipline, improve your mental health, improve your social circle (you can join a group of people who enjoy walking), improve your digestion, balance, and much more.

If you have an issue with your joints or are suffering from a chronic illness, please speak to your doctor before undertaking this workout. Walking is indeed a low impact workout, but some illnesses may make it harder to do, especially if you want to undertake such a big challenge.


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 1500 Calorie Vegetarian Meal Plan: Turning The Idea Of Plant-Based Weight Loss On Its Head (2022,
  2. 20,000 Steps A Day Weight Loss: March To The Body Of Your Dreams (2023,
  3. 30-Day Plant-Based Diet: How Consuming More Plant-Based Foods Can Boost Your Health (2022,
  4. Association of Step Volume and Intensity With All-Cause Mortality in Older Women (2019,
  5. A Systematic Review of the Effect of Physical Activity on Asthma Outcomes (2021,
  6. Calories burned in 30 minutes for people of three different weights (2018,
  7. Effect of walking exercise on abdominal fat, insulin resistance and serum cytokines in obese women (2014,
  8. Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help (2019,
  9. Forget 10,000 steps. 7 surprising tips for step counters. (2023,
  10. Get more out of your daily walk (2023,
  11. Higher step counts linked to lower risk of heart-related death (2023,
  12. How many steps/day are enough? for adults (2011,
  13. How many steps/day are enough? Preliminary pedometer indices for public health (2004,
  14. I Walked 20k Steps a Day for a Month. The Results Transformed Me (2023,
  15. Mantra Meditation: Empowering Words That’ll Put You Into A Better Headspace (2023,
  16. Mediterranean Diet 30-Day Meal Plan: The Beginner’s Guide With Clear-Cut Answers About This Diet Plan (2022,
  17. Playing Outside: Why It’s Important for Kids (2023,
  18. Step Counting: A Review of Measurement Considerations and Health-Related Applications (2017,
  19. Time spent in sedentary posture is associated with waist circumference and cardiovascular risk (2017,
  20. Walking 4,000 steps per day can improve health and lower risk your risk of dying, new study finds (2023,
  21. Why 20000 Steps Daily Should Be Your New Year’s Resolution (2023,
  22. Why You Should Keep Walking, Even as Life Speeds Back Up (2021,
  23. Working out boosts brain health (2020,
  24. World’s largest study shows the more you walk, the lower your risk of death, even if you walk fewer than 5,000 steps (2023,
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