However, this is a case where it definitely pays to be above average. At 5,000 steps per day, it is unlikely you are getting the amount of exercise recommended to reduce health risks.
Plus, it is likely that you are sitting and inactive for long periods during the day, which can increase health risks.
Average Daily Steps by Country and Gender
A 2016 study of 103,383 American employees in a workplace-based physical activity challenge found that they averaged 6,886 steps per day—but they may have walked more than usual due to being part of the challenge.
A study published in 2010 of over 1,000 Americans found an average of 5,117 steps overall, with men only slightly ahead of women at 5,340 steps compared with 4,912 steps. The United States data was collected from people who wore a pedometer for two days during normal activity. The researchers compared with studies in other countries:
United States: 5,117 steps. This is about 2.5 miles or about 4 kilometers each day.
Switzerland: 9,650 steps
Japan: 7,168 steps
Western Australia: 9,695 steps. A wider survey in Australia found an average of 7,400 steps (Australian Health Survey 2011-12)
Pedometer researcher Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke published a study in 2004 showing a wide variation in the 200 men and women who participated.
Men: 7,192 steps per day.
Women: 5,210 steps per day.
Study participants with larger body mass indexes (a measure of overweight and obesity) took fewer steps per day on average.
People walked more on workdays, weekdays, and days they participated in sports or exercise.
Activity Monitor Data
The companies who make mobile phones, fitness apps, activity bands, and pedometers receive continuous data from their users on total daily steps. This data may be skewed in that people who wear pedometers or activity bands are motivated to take more steps per day and reach targets. They may not wear the pedometer or carry the phone continuously throughout the day.
Withings released data from a panel of its pedometer users in 2015 that showed these averages:
United States: 5,815 steps
France: 6,330 steps
United Kingdom: 6,322
Fitbit released data on the average steps per day for each U.S. state, based on over one million users, comparing summer to winter 2012 to 2014. Overall, Fitbit wearers walked 7,000 steps per day in winter and 1,000 more steps per day in summer, around an average of 8,000 steps.
How Many Steps per Day Are Enough?
The goal of 10,000 steps per day was not originally determined by research. It was a nice, round number that fit well into a pedometer advertising campaign. However, according to Dr. Tudor-Locke's research, it has proven to be a fairly good marker for being moderately active and achieving the minimum amount of physical activity recommended each day.
Dr. Tudor-Locke previously weighed in on how many steps per day were enough to prevent weight gain and to get the health benefits of walking. You should add 2,000-3,000 more steps to your day than you get from your general activities.
If you typically walk 5,000 steps per day, find the time to walk an additional 2,000 to 3,000 steps. This will take from 15 to 30 minutes. If you walk at a brisk pace or enjoy a run, you will be getting the moderate-intensity or vigorous-intensity exercise recommended for everyone daily to reduce health risks.
You should also aim to break up long periods of sitting, as many studies find that being inactive for most of the day is its own health risk.
Many activity bands and smartwatches are incorporating inactivity alerts and move reminders. Newer Fitbit models remind you to move at least 250 steps each hour. By using this goal, you should be able to add an additional 1,000 to 2,000 steps per day to your total.
A Word From Verywell
The number of steps you take each day is an indicator of whether you are getting the amount of physical activity you need to reduce health risks and improve your fitness. You can monitor your step count in many ways, including wearing a pedometer or fitness band or checking a pedometer app on your mobile phone (assuming you carry it with you most of the day). Don't settle for average. Increase your steps to reduce inactive periods and achieve 30 minutes of exercise each day.