The Downside to Walking 20,000 Steps Every Day

What do a volleyball tournament, strategic planning meeting, and a haircut have in common? All three happened last week during this 20k One Year Step Challenge. It was Week 29 of getting 20,000 steps every day for a year with no breaks.

You can keep reading this article or listen to it. Your choice!

By the way…I don’t for a moment believe everyone should aim for 20,000 steps a day. That’s my goal. How many steps you should you get a day? For the answer to that question click HERE.

The common thread for each of those three things (volleyball tournament, planning meeting, and a haircut) is I had to sit. Obviously, when I’m sitting I’m not adding steps to my Fitbit. But, that’s actually not the downside to having a daily goal of 20,000. The downside is I don’t sit well. At all.

Reaching 20k requires a little less than four hours of walking every day. I never do that all at once. I’ve learned how to find lots of little pockets of time to get all those steps. It only takes 10-minutes to walk 1,000 steps. If you find enough of these opportunities throughout your day you can really supersize your step count and move even closer to fitness. 

I have learned how to navigate around the parts of my day when I have to sit. That’s not the issue…I can always find time to move even when I have meetings or a day long volleyball tournament. If I need less than four hours of walking to reach my target, I still have plenty of time for sitting.

No, the bigger issue is staying engaged when I have to sit because I simply don’t sit well anymore. I feel better when I’m moving. And, when I’m moving I’m actually more engaged. And, I have found ways to not sit when I need to focus on something.

For example…

I stand in the studio while we are on the air each morning. I can move around and I’m more focused on the show. Ava and I often go for walks together. Our conversations are better.

I write a lot of these blog posts while I’m walking. I come up with the general idea and the points I want to make while I’m moving and then sit at my computer to put my thoughts “on paper”. In other words, I can’t sit and stare at a blank computer screen and wait for inspiration. None would come.

I no longer sit and watch a movie from beginning to end. For me it’s not Netflix and Chill, but Netflix and Walk. I love the ocean. Guess how long I can sit in a beach chair before getting up to walk? I used to hate commercial breaks when I watch sports on TV. Not anymore. They have become opportunities to move.

Candidly, there is a downside to not sitting well. I struggle during long meetings. That’s not fair to my colleagues. I don’t travel well if it requires a long flight or even a long drive.

Most of us, though, don’t struggle with sitting more. We struggle with moving more. Has that been your experience every time you start a new exercise program?

The beginning of every fitness journey is difficult. And, that difficulty consistently increases as we get older. I haven’t always wanted to move more than I wanted to sit. There was a time, in the not too distant past, where sitting was a pretty high priority for me. It felt better to sit. And, the more I sat, the more I wanted to sit. Kind of funny how it works that way.

Once I got serious about fitness ten years ago I started pushing myself to move more. I started small, but slowly and gradually did more and more. And, without knowing exactly when the pendulum swung the other way…the more I moved, the more I wanted to move.

And…the less I wanted to sit. While I may struggle with sitting for a long time, research indicates that struggle is actually a health benefit. It’s dangerous to sit too much!


If you want to improve your fitness in 2020 I want to encourage you to take the 30 Day Fitness Challenge. You’ll set a small step goal to reach every day for 30 days.

As you reach your daily goal you’ll create a fitness habit and with those daily wins you’ll begin to build your own fitness momentum. That momentum eventually leads to fitness transformation.

To take The 30 Day Fitness Challenge I recommend three things:


To optimize The 30 Day Fitness Challenge you’ll need a step tracker. I recommend the brand new Fitbit Inspire 2! The Inspire 2 has double the battery life, and also tracks your heart rate and sleep so you get an even wider picture of your fitness progress.

(By the way…if you use the link above to buy a Fitbit Inspire this blog will receive a small commission. It won’t add anything to what you pay, but letting you know is the right thing to do)

Of course, you could walk and get the same fitness benefits without a step tracker. But, with a Fitbit you start seeing fitness as an all-day thing and not simply those 30 minutes when you’re “taking a walk.” It was a complete game changer when I got my first Fitbit.


Download this free guide to the 30 Day Fitness Challenge to begin your journey. It includes a worksheet to help you set your daily step goal, a contract to make with yourself (I know that sounds cheesy, but it really works), and a 30 Day Challenge Win Tracker to track your daily wins.

It’s probably no surprise to learn that most people who set a fitness goal don’t finish. The first 30 days are the most critical!


This blog is designed to help readers embrace walking as fitness activity. It’s sustainable, flexible, effective, and fun. Every week I post new articles with stories and helpful suggestions to Win at Fitness.

If you click FOLLOW (below on your phone…to the right and above on your computer) you’ll receive an email with a link to each new blog post.

Let’s make this the year fitness finally sticks!


  1. I just did the math and found that, for the last two years, I’ve averaged 9.6 miles a day walking. Or 20,082 steps a day. I wear minimalist shoes so that does limit my speed a bit. Aside from developing Morton’s Neuroma in one of my feet, (which I guess I ought to look into addressing) the only downside I’ve experienced is the nagging feeling that I’ve become a lazy slug if I walk less that six miles in a day. My mood goes south if I go two days in a row without a couple hours walking.

    • Nicholas…I totally understand where you’re coming from. I don’t even want to imagine where my mood would head if I couldn’t walk every day!

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