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What It Really Takes to Hit 10,000 Steps a Day When You Work a Desk Job

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10,000 steps at a desk job

Hint: there’s absolutely no TV involved, you can’t just sit at your desk all day, AND you may still need to hop on the treadmill before bed!

I have a little FitBit Zip that I take out of hiding every once in awhile to see how I’m doing on daily activity. It’s been awhile, so I was actually pretty surprised to see how much more I needed to move every day than I have been to hit the 10,000 goal.

What it really takes to hit 10,000 steps per day when you work 8 hours in a cubicle.

Ready for this?

9/8, A Workday

  1. Run 2 miles before work.
  2. Get up from my desk once an hour or so to use bathroom, run to the kitchen, put samples away, etc.
  3. When I get home, I play with the kids and kittens outside for most of the evening.
  4. Normal walking around while tidying up while we’re all inside.
  5. Walk 8 minutes on the treadmill because I’m all ready to hop into bed and I still need 2k steps. Yes, I totally became one of those people.

how to hit 10,000 steps a day at a desk job

Only a few more to go!

9/21, Another Workday (this time I paid attention to roughly how many steps each activity gave me).

  1. Run two miles in the morning (5,000, only halfway there).
  2. Go to work like normal and walk around when necessary (only 2,000).
  3. Go home and play catch with my son, clean, take the garbage and recycling down our looong driveway (3,000, hit the goal right before bed).

The bulk of my daily steps are taken during a morning workout and after work, when I’m not lounging around.

The goal? To walk more at work. I’m going through 8 hours of barely moving. No wonder sitting disease is the new smoking!

Oh my goodness. I mean, I’ve done this type of tracking before, but I never realized how much you really do need to MOVE to get to 10,000 steps!


Ok, here’s another example from a weekend day, 9/10

  1. Get up and run 3 miles.
  2. Go to a nature preserve and walk around the trails and through the butterfly house for hours.
  3. Go home and do normal walking/cleaning around the house.

Again, I NEVER would’ve gotten anywhere NEAR 10,000 steps if I had gone about a “normal” day. I had to take a run, another hike through a nature preserve, AND clean like a madwoman to hit my goal. That’s a lot of stuff to fit into one day! And who actually runs 3 miles every.single.day?


A day with just “normal” movement looks like this:

steps per day when not working out


The moral of all this?

To hit 10,000 steps a day when you work 9-to-5:

  • You have to work out most days.
  • You need to make it a point to get out of your desk once an hour and/or take a walk on your lunch break.
  • When you get home, you can’t veg all night. You still have to move around the house cleaning, playing, or whatever it is you do. In fact, I rarely watch TV and still had to get on the treadmill that one time to hit my goal.
  • You have to work HARD to meet this goal if you work a sitting job all day. You can’t just guess when you might be getting close to 10,000 per day. You’re likely WAY off. Don’t kid yourself. Wear a tracker to figure out the number of steps you’re really taking and DO something about it!

Do wear a tracker regularly? Do you find it hard to meet your 10,000 steps a day?

Now that you know what it takes, how are you going to remedy your shortcomings?

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  1. Angelica says:

    Great article! Peter works at a job that has the individuals engage in fitness or walking challenges and they organize teams. They get special reinforcements for how many steps they’ve completed at the end of the challenge. I think most work places should implement this as the team effort mentality really encourages people to excel.

    • That’s awesome that his work does that! We have a company wellness system in place at work too, and it actually won an award this year! I’m actually part of the wellness committee too, so I hope to really help ramp it up. I wish I could just help people get UP out of their desks, make it not so weird to do lunges at your desk or something. Haha!

  2. So I don’t work a desk job–hell, I work in a GYM–and it is hard for me to get 10000 steps in every day if I’m not running! Especially if you drive to work. It is no wonder that so many people are so sedentary.

    • Wow, see that’s so eye opening! It’s so challenging with our modern lifestyles to be as active as we should be. No wonder why they say even working out doesn’t completely make up for the effects of sitting all day. Just yesterday, we went to a pumpkin patch for several hours and didn’t sit, except for the hay ride. Then, I came home and cooked and cleaned and STILL had to pace for awhile to hit my goal.

  3. I work a desk job & even with a workout & 4 flights of stairs before I use the bathroom (just a weird step earning habit I got into) I still rarely meet my 10K unless I go on a long evening walk or a long morning run. If I’m lucky, I leave work with 5-6K steps. It’s hard for sure!

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