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7 Surprising Benefits of Walking 10,000+ Steps a Day

Here is why you should throw on a pair of sneakers and take a stroll. 
FACT CHECKED BY Christopher Roback

"Walking is one of the most underrated forms of exercise," maintains Samantha Clayton, certified fitness trainer, personal and group trainer, AFAA, ISSA, NASM. "The power of walking is vast." She agrees with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention that you should try and get in 10,000 steps per day – and even up to 12,000. "It is a fantastic goal to reap many of the health benefits," she says. Here are seven surprising reasons why you should walk 10,000 steps per day. 

1. Walking Is Good for Your Heart…And Your Brain

Man walking on sunlit trail in autumn forest enjoying peaceful walk in nature

"Walking is cardiovascular in nature meaning it encourages your heart to work harder and increases blood flow through the body including the brain," says Clayton. One study found that walking an hour a day, "significantly enhanced the volume of several brain areas, including the frontal lobe, which is involved with problem solving and reasoning."

Related: Denise Austin Shares Workout to "Tone and Tighten Your Thighs"

2. It Will Help You Lose Weight

Full length of excited Indian woman sitting on scales at home, overjoyed with success of her slimming diet, side view. Emotional Asian lady achieving her weight loss goal, making YES gesture

Clayton explains that walking helps burn calories, which will in turn lead to weight loss. But did you know that walking may also help counteract the effects of weight-promoting genes? One Harvard study found that for people with obesity promoting genes, walking briskly for an hour a day cut the effects of those genes by 50 percent. 

3. And, It Will Help Improve Muscle Ton

Bare legs in running shoes preparing to exercise on a bright summer day on an empty road

Walking also helps improve muscle tone, says Clayton, "especially if you step it up a bit by adding in hills. This will build your posterior chain muscles and burn extra calories." You can also incorporate hand weights, "a great way to increase the burn and tone up the upper body," she says. 

4. Walking Will Improve Your Mood

Couple of tourists having fun walking on city street at holiday - Happy friends laughing together on vacation - People and holidays concept

Like other forms of exercise, walking will improve your mood from the release of endorphins, says Clayton. One study found that walking just 10 minutes had a positive impact on mental health. 

Related: How I Lost 40 Pounds in One Month

5. It Also Helps Improve Bone Health

Mature Couple On Autumn Walk With Labrador

Walking also improves bone density, according to Clayton. One study found that women who walk more than 7.5 miles per week have a higher mean bone density of the whole body and of the legs and trunk regions of the body than women who walk less than 1 mile per week.

6. It Can Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

In the Hospital, Portrait Shot of Topless Multiethnic Female Patient Undergoing Mammography Screening Procedure. Healthy Adult Caucasian Woman Does Cancer Preventive Mammogram Scan in Radiology Room.

Another surprising benefit of walking? According to studies, it can even reduce the risk of breast cancer. Researchers from the American Cancer Society found that women who walked seven or more hours a week had a 14 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who walked three hours or fewer per week. 

Related: 5 Ways You Might Be Sabotaging Your Weight Loss Without Even Knowing It

7. It May Also Prevent Arthritis

Front view of senior woman hiker standing outdoors in nature at sunset.

Got joint pain? You might not know that research has found that walking can not only reduce arthritis-related pain, but possibly prevent it from forming in the first place. Walking helps lubricate your joints, including the hips and knees. 

💪🔥Body Booster: To help tone your arms, carry a light set of free weights on your walk.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more