• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • How Much to Walk According to BMI
December 2, 2022

Walking has always been one of the most important ways of exercising. It doesn’t require special skills or physical predispositions, and almost anyone can do it.

There are numerous mental and physical benefits from walking, which you will feel almost immediately. But you must be careful to start slow, especially if you’re overweight. 

To cover this, we will explain how much to walk according to BMI and how other factors also affect how much you can walk. 

Let’s get started.

How Much to Walk According to BMI

BMI indicates how healthy you are according to two parameters: your weight and height. How much walking (how many steps) you need daily is determined by the weight status you have, and it can be:

  • 10,000 daily steps for men and women with a healthy BMI weight status
  • 7,000 – 8,000 daily steps for men and women with an overweight/obese BMI status

The numbers above are average, deducted from studies on people from different genders, ages, and weight levels.

Age, lifestyle, and diet also play a huge role when determining the number of daily steps. We will elaborate further on these numbers in the following sections.

BMI Analyses and Walking

How to calculate your BMI

BMI is measured the same way for adults and children.

If you want to calculate your own BMI, you can do it by dividing your weight (in pounds) by the square of your height (inches) and then multiplying the result by 703 (a conversion factor set by the CDC).

For example, a 160-pounds adult with 75 inches of height has a BMI of 19.99, which corresponds to being of healthy weight. 

Formula: [160 ÷ 752] x 703 = 19.99

You can also use this calculator to measure your BMI quickly.

Weight status BMI chart

According to a preset BMI chart by the CDC, four weight status categories exist.

Weight StatusBMI
UnderweightUnder 18.5
Normal weight18.5 – 24.9
Overweight25 – 29.9
ObesityAbove 30

The weight status in this table is measured and applies to adult men and women over the age of 20. 

Walking recommendations according to your BMI

Based on the BMI chart, we will consider the underweight and normal weight status as one group and the overweight and obese status as another. This is because of the similarity in their physical constitution and health.

A study was performed on 3127 individuals in 2004 to determine the optimum number of daily steps required for people of different weight statuses. 

That study classified healthy-status individuals with a value below 25 BMI and overweight/obese individuals with a BMI greater than 25.

Based on that study, an average number of steps was deducted for both BMI weight statuses:

  • 10,000 daily steps for normal weight status individuals (men and women)
  • 7,000-8,000 daily steps for overweight/obese weight status individuals (men and women)

These numbers, however, also depend on other factors such as your lifestyle and diet. We will discuss these factors next.

Walking recommendations according to your lifestyle

Lifestyle is a major factor that impacts the total number of recommended daily steps. If you spend more than eight hours a day in a sedentary position, you can’t expect to stand up and walk 10,000 steps at once, even if you have a healthy BMI.

The value of 10,000 daily steps is a standard average for most people, but to reach that number, you must start slow. 

A study published by Catrine Tudor-Locke suggests the following steps for individuals who lead different lifestyles:

  • Below 5,000 daily steps for people with a sedentary lifestyle
  • 5,000-7,499 daily steps for people with low levels of physical activity
  • 7,500-9,999 daily steps for intermittently active people
  • 10,000 or above daily steps for generally active people
  • 12,500 or daily steps for highly active people

According to these numbers, getting into everyday walking must be done slowly and progressively over time. You can’t expect to get up and do 10,000 steps, even if you have a healthy BMI when your primary lifestyle is sedentary. 

Walking recommendations according to your diet and achieving weight loss

Losing weight is one of the primary reasons many overweight/obese people want to start walking. 

According to an article published by New Health Advisor, 10,000 daily steps (around five miles) help you burn around 500 calories. This calorie amount is enough to help you burn fat, but walking 10,000 daily steps is not easy if you’re overweight.

Together with changing your lifestyle, you must also adjust your diet and caloric intake. The key goal is to eat less food by reducing bites and starting with only 15 minutes of walking per day. 

From there, you will slowly progress toward the 10,000 daily steps marker, which may take longer to complete depending on how many miles per hour you’re walking. However, consistency is more important than walking speed when it comes to weight loss with walking.

Walking will help you burn extra fat, but pairing it with a reduced food intake will make you feel the effects more quickly.

Walking recommendations for children according to BMI

BMI is calculated in a similar way for children, but it is differently interpreted. Children’s BMI is interpreted using their age and sex as benchmarks. This is because body fat changes rapidly as children age and is different for boys and girls.

Because of these factors, according to a study performed in 2000, BMI for children is interpreted in percentiles. These percentiles define the weight status in children as follows:

  • 5th percentile to 85th percentile – healthy weight status
  • Greater than 85th percentile – overweight/obese weight status

If a child or teen falls into the 50th percentile range, then their weight is greater than 50% of other childer of the same age or sex.

These statistics, paired with another study on the recommended BMI-referenced standards for daily steps for children, conclude that children from 6 to 12 years old should walk an ideal steps range of

  • 15,000 steps for boys
  • 12,000 steps for girls

These values are ideal for both healthy and overweight boys and girls in general, and they should strive to achieve them for maximum health benefits.


Now that you know how much to walk according to BMI, we hope you will apply the advice we gave you in this article and start living a healthy and responsible life.

If you have any comments or questions, please leave them in the comment section below, and we will be happy to come back to you as soon as possible.

BMI Calculator