What I Learned from Walking 15,000 Steps Per Day

Discover what the Get-Fit Guy learned from quantifying his steps by walking 15,000 steps per day.

Ben Greenfield
4-minute read
Episode #287

4 Lessons Learned From 15,000 Steps per Day

  1. Walking Counts As Meditation

Meditation and breathwork seem to be an entirely new and trendy fitness craze, but I often find that I simply don’t have the time to squeeze in twenty to thirty minutes of silent meditation. However, I’ve discovered that I can turn walking into a form of moving meditation by taking a twenty to thirty minute walk each day during which I engage in box breathing. It’s simple, relaxing, and induces a feeling just like other forms of “sedentary” meditation I’ve done. Here’s how it works:

  • Breathe in for four steps.
  • Hold your inhaled breathe lightly for the next four steps.
  • Breathe out slowly for four steps.
  • Hold your exhaled breathe lightly for the next four steps.

That’s it! As you can see, you can simply visualize breathing up the side of a box, across the top of that box, down the box, and across the bottom of the box.

  1. Every Little Thing Counts

As I discuss in the episode “How to Get Ripped,” tiny little movements throughout the day add up to a significant number of calories. On a travel day in which I’m bound to the seat of a car or airplane, getting to my 15,000 steps goal is extremely hard. But it becomes far easier when I’m at the home office, where I’m following all the “grease-the-groove” rules I discuss in that episode, such as 100 jumping jacks for every hour I sit, use of a standing / walking workstation, pacing when I chat on the phone, doing 20 air squats every time I use the restroom, etc. I’ve found that I can far more easily achieve 15,000 steps per day with these little moves thrown in every day.

  1. Wear Compression

This may seem like a strange tip, but I’ve found that when I am indeed on my feet all day, standing, walking, moving, pacing, squatting, etc., and also doing moving meditation walks, I tend to get quite a bit of blood pooling in the feet, calves and lower extremities.

Because of this, I’ve been wearing compression socks and compression leggings while I’m at work, and it makes a night-and-day difference in terms of how “heavy” my legs feel at the end of the day, which is particularly important since I tend to save my workout for the end of the day. So if you plan on having a lofty step goal, use better living through clothing science and invest in good compression gear for your lower extremities (which, incidentally, will also lower risk for varicose veins).

  1. Walking Burns Fewer Calories Than You’d Think

I burn about 400 calories per hour at a relatively brisk walking pace (usually about four miles per hour). Yep, that means that for me to simply burn through an average cookie from Starbucks, I’d need to hit the road for at least an hour or more. Compared to running (800+ calories per hour), swimming in cool water (900+ calories per hour) or rowing (1000+ calories per hour), walking isn’t a great way to burn calories. So, while there are an enormous number of benefits derived from moving at a low level of physical activity and throwing in half hour walks each day, don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s going to burn oodles of fat off your waistline. To achieve that, you do indeed need to go out and build up an “oxygen debt,” a concept I tackle in the episode “Does Running or Walking Burn More Calories?”

Do you have questions, comments or feedback about self-quantification or what I learned from walking 15,000 steps per day? Join the conversation at Facebook.com/getfitguy.


About the Author

Ben Greenfield

Ben Greenfield received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Idaho in sports science and exercise physiology; personal training and strength and conditioning certifications from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA); a sports nutrition certification from the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), an advanced bicycle fitting certification from Serotta. He has over 11 years’ experience in coaching professional, collegiate, and recreational athletes from all sports, and as helped hundreds of clients achieve weight loss and fitness success.