The 10,000 steps challenge

Research shows that walking 10,000 steps a day will significantly improve your health. Putting one foot in front of the other can build stamina, burn excess calories and give you a healthier heart. 

What's so great about walking?

Walking can be done almost anywhere, at any time, and in any weather. It's also a great way to get from A to B, which means you can fit walking into your daily routine.

How do I know how many steps I'm taking?

The average person walks between 3,000 and 4,000 steps per day, and 1,000 steps is the equivalent of around 10 minutes of brisk walking. To find out how many steps you take each day, buy a pedometer similar to the one in the video at the bottom of this page. You can get a simple one that tracks steps for as little as £4. Clip it firmly to your belt or waistband, and it will measure every step you take: around the house, across the office, window shopping, to school or the park. You might find that you walk almost 10,000 steps a day, or that you walk less than you think. Whatever your results, knowing how far you can walk in a day will help motivate you.

How many calories will I burn if I walk 10,000 steps a day?

A person weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn about 440 calories by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3.5mph). If you're trying to lose weight, you should aim to burn 600 more calories than you take in through food and drink every day. This is best achieved by a combination of diet and exercise. 

What if I don’t take any exercise at the moment?

If you're not very active, increase your walking distances gradually. No one expects 10,000 steps on the first day! If you're worried about your joints or any existing health conditions, talk to your GP. If your joints are a problem, you can see if your local swimming pool holds exercise classes. The water helps to support your joints while you move, and once you lose a bit of weight, that will reduce the pressure on your joints.

Do I need any special clothing?

We recommend a pair of cushioned trainers, which most people have already.

What’s the best way to start?

Using your pedometer, find out how many steps you take during a normal day. It could be as little as 900 steps, or as much as 5,000 steps, depending on what you do. Record your daily steps over a week and use the total weekly number to work out a daily average.

Use this daily average to build your steps gradually, by adding a few more steps every so often until you're regularly walking 10,000 steps a day.

Read walking for health for more ideas on increasing your steps.

Physical activity recommendations for adults

Adults who are overweight are likely to need more than the recommended amount of activity  to lose weight, and this activity should be accompanied by diet changes.

10,000 steps sounds a lot. How do I fit all that walking into my busy day?

Increasing your walking is easier than you think. Try these tips for getting more steps into your life:

  • get off the bus early and walk the rest of the way home or to work
  • walk to the station instead of taking the car or bus
  • invest in a shopping trolley and shop locally if you can
  • walk the children to school, whatever the weather
  • get fit with Fido – walk the dog

For more tips and advice see the links on the right of this page.

    I find walking boring. How can I make it more fun?

    • find a walking partner so you have someone to chat to as you walk
    • get an MP3 player and listen to your favourite music or podcasts as you go
    • plan interesting walks during your days off
    • join a walking group like the Ramblers 

    How long do I have to keep walking?

    The rest of your life! Being active is a lifelong health habit. It's great for preventing weight gain, lifting your mood, and reducing your risk of a raft of serious diseases, such as heart disease. It takes a while for a regular activity to become a healthy habit, so just keep going and it will become second nature. You’ll soon find yourself doing many more than 10,000 steps some days.

    What if I can’t walk for a few days due to illness or a holiday?

    Walking is a gentle form of exercise that is easy to get back into after a break. Just start again when you can, and build up slowly if you've been ill. The sooner you get back into the exercise groove, the better. When going on a holiday, choose one where you'll have plenty of opportunities to walk, for instance along the beach or in the countryside.

    Is walking enough? Or should I think about other exercise as well?

    The amount of exercise that is recommended depends on your age. Adults between 19 and 64 should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity – such as fast walking or cycling – per week. Learn more in physical activity guidelines for adults. Once you're feeling the benefits of 10,000 steps a day, you may start thinking about getting more active. You could visit your local fitness centre and see what's on offer. Some people enjoy competitive sports, others prefer sociable physical activity such as dancing. You can get more ideas in Get fit your way.

    Can you walk 10,000 steps a day?

    Walking 10,000 steps a day can improve your health, build stamina and burn excess calories. As office worker Kate discovers, it's easier than you might think.

    Media last reviewed: 06/09/2013

    Next review due: 06/09/2015

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    The 40 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

    ah2424 said on 04 April 2014

    I purchased an Omron pedometer and though a bit more expensive than the cheaper ones it is well worth the money.it is so accurate and you cant cheat with it! I am 70 yrs old and have been walking 10.000 steps daily for the past 6 weeks when I decided to start getting a bit fitter. If I find I haven't reached the required daily steps I walk around the house, garden etc. until I have reached the 10.000. I am also trying to eat more sensibly and have lost 7 pounds in weight so far (1 stone to go) it was purchasing the pedometer that gives me the incentive so would advice anyone thinking of trying to get fit to do the same. If I can do it anyone can!!

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    User850271 said on 28 February 2014

    Walking is a fantastic way to start getting healthier and fitter. An even better way when you are new to exercise, overweight or with an injury or in rehabilitation is Nordic Walking as it takes the pressure off your joints and helps you increase your heart rate without the same effort as ordinary walking! It's suitable for all ages and you do not need any previous experience! A lot of people confuse this type of exercise with skiing, which can put some people off - but it is nothing like skiing, the only similarity is that you are holding poles in your hands - I promise!!

    Very best wishes
    Ulrika

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    TRISH BE HAPPY said on 20 March 2012

    HI my love,s of all size. My name is Trish and very much like the rest of you all Iam trying to lose some weight. Not that it has been easy and Iam starting to lose hope. I have got a torn knee which is a real pain my ? Is can any one give me some good tips to help as I can no longer do that mad walking thing.Lol. Not that I did it for long but I am worring about getting to heavy and then they will nt do my op. Thanks very much hope you are all very well and happy,xxxxx

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    JagoHolmes said on 19 April 2011

    That's a great list of benefits other than having more energy, improved posture and a thinner, more toned body.

    10,000 steps a day is a very achievable target for most people and it can easily be fitted in around your lifestyle.

    Jago

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    spired said on 08 January 2010

    Hi Big Jen -- for the last month walking's been a struggle for me (cartilege problems in my knee) and instead I've been doing stretch and hold exercises. The basic principle is as follows: stretch a muscle until you feel strain, and hold for a count of twenty seconds. The balance problems mean that the ones done standing up probably won't work, but you could, say do leg raises from sitting down?

    I also kept on walking, just as far as I could manage. Even though I couldn't do the recommended distance, number of steps and speed I still think it helps to keep the muscles and joints moving and doing something. My Doctor's agreed, with the advice that I should rest when I need to and build up gradually.

    Mogwilover, it's true that fit people might not get much benefit from walking unless they do the "olympic walk", but for anyone recovering from an illness, building up their fitness, reducing their weight or trying to improve joint problems, even a bit of walking is beneficial. If you're worried about whether your walking is helping, go a slightly faster and further than you are comfortable with, or aim to build up distance and speed gradually over time.

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    Kermitthefrog111 said on 15 December 2009

    Hi everybody,
    I'm hoping for some help here. I'm 13, and incredibly obese. I've decided to try the 10,000 step challenge, as soon as I get a pedometer. Has anyone got any tips that might help me? I have a very low willpower, but I'm willing to give it a try.

    Does anybody have any cheap sports that are easy to do during winter, when it's so dark and wet outside? I know walking is an option, but it's hard to do for long periods of time before or after school.

    Thanks so much for anyone who replies to this - I'll be waiting and hoping.
    Kermit the frog.

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    Mogwilover said on 12 December 2009

    Hi everyone, I am trying to lose 4 stone which I put on due to a thyroid condition.

    I walk twice a day - about 4,000 steps each time, I have always done this having had diabetes for 50 years and exercise being part of my regime.. The nurse at my practice (she is very young and very fit) said that what I was doing was "pointless" because I wasn't walking like those people in the Olympic walking marathons. I am not able to walk in that way at my age so I gave up for a time, but my joints got more painful and my diabetes went out of control.

    Surely walking at the best speed you can manage is not "pointless", or do you need to walk at a fast pace with your arms pumping up and down rapidly as she demonstrated to me?

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    asknwunderen said on 22 November 2009

    Sometimes it's about much more than weight... About 8 months ago I decided to make some changes to my size 22 frame.

    First -- I took stock:
    I made a note of what I was eating and why I was eating for about 2 weeks... I noticed that I had a habit of going to the fridge and/or pantry and just... grazing... especially if I felt stressed, unhappy, upset or bored.

    Second -- Made up 2 simple rules based on my eating habits:

    This was the most important rule for myself... no more opening the fridge or pantry for impulse eating... instead I could only go to the fruit bowl, bag of raisins or jars of nuts kept on the kitchen counter. After the first few days (with my hand reaching for the fridge before remembering at the last second that I could no longer open it for snacking), I eventually stopped automatically going to the fridge or pantry (holder of crisps and biscuts...).

    The next rule was to switch to mainly clear liquid drinks. I stopped drinking milk (cocoa was a favourite) and fizzy drinks... switched to store bought water or tap water with a bit of squash.

    Third -- Exercise:
    I was far to shy to go to a gym or anything like that. So I started exercising at home about 1/2 hour or so before anyone in my family woke up. Eventually, I started exercising in the evenings too at home. My family was surprised... my husband laughed and made sarky comments... constantly offering me junk food... which i politely but consistently refused... and I kept at it.

    Lastly...
    I had to make some difficult choices, because as the weight just melted away, I finally faced the source of my deep-rooted unhappiness and acknowledged my needs. It was about 5 months into this change when I realised that the complete lack of intimacy on any level in my marriage affected my confidence and self-respect. I'm now separated, size 16 to 18, have continued the healthier eating patterns and have a social life again, got into a post-graduate course and am much happier...

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    Mrs Patsy said on 26 September 2009

    I had my weigh in on Thursday (a day early) with a cardigan and I lost 2lb, so 13st 3lb now. I had a moderate swim for 30 minutes also. I hurt my back yesterday and could not manage a walk, but I walked today on my lunch for 30 minutes. I have also noticed my tummy is less bloated and I am sleeping better besides last night when I had taken my prescribed pain killers for my back , which do interfere with sleep.

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    Mrs Patsy said on 23 September 2009

    I'm on a health kick after losing/gaining weight again, I am following a health eating plan since Saturday as on Friday I weighed 13st 5lb and was horrified (I had a Baby last November and ate for 2). Hoping to walk for at least 40 minutes 6 times a week, my Husband is also doing this with me and Baby Ruby (this way we get more time together as I work full time as well). Weigh in Friday, will let you know how I get on.

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    libratricia said on 06 September 2009

    I started walking (with pedometer) 3 weeks ago and am losing inches. You don't have to do your walking in one go. For example I park my car in the car park as far away from the supermarket entrance as possible. I then walk round half of the perimeter of the car park to go and do my shopping. Then I walk back to my car walking round the other half of the perimeter. Including the shopping this usually gives me a total of around 2,000 steps. I build up to 10,000 throughout the day. The other essential for me is to have music on my iPod. It takes away the boredom. I am obviously building muscle so don't expect the weight to go immediately but know that will come, although I AM losing it at the rate of 1lb a week. The inches lost though are very important to me. I want my shape back! I am 5'5" tall, and 71 years of age. I try to keep my calories around the 1,200 a day mark and burn up 500 of those with the 10,000 steps. It really does work, believe me. And don't forget - you don't need to start at 10,000 steps, build them up day by day. Above all, have patience - we didn't put the weight on in a week did we? We can't really expect to get it off in a week either. Keep walking and be happy!!

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    astrophe said on 26 August 2009

    Big Jen, it takes somewhere in the region of 2000 calories/day for a woman to maintain 18 stone in weight, without taking any exercise at all. Even if you think you're not eating very much, maybe you're eating the wrong things? I have been RRMS for 13 years, and my weight has been all over the place -- up when I'm taking steroids /depressed, and down when I'm feeling better and can do more. Please don't be offended but you sound pretty low, and for me exercise helps that. If you enjoy swimming and walking then give them a go -- who cares what people say? To be honest I don't think people give me a second thought when I'm at the pool and believe me I am no skinny minnie! Best luck.

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    Big Jen said on 24 August 2009

    Yeah yeah, you make it sound easy to do 10,000 steps a day. I have MS and weigh about 18 stone. I have to use a stick to walk most days and 10,000 steps is totally unobtainable. Would go swimming but the pool is always full of gossiping women standing right in the middle of the pool plus the sight of my bulk in a cossie is enough to send kids screaming in all directions. I do walk regularly as I love the Isle of Wight scenery and am dripping with sweat when I get home so worry about my appearance, I am sick of teenagers and kids that stare at me. Whoever was the bright spark who said "Try Running" I say try having a condition which affects your balance, your eyesight, manual dexterity and your mobility.
    I do not eat excessively and have NEVER been to a fast food outlet. I have no appetite and probably eat far to little for my six foot frame but feel sickened by any foods that have been fried and my husband who prepares all meals, moans when I leave food that I can't manage, but I still can't lose weight. Soooo What next?

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    Zoey1009 said on 18 August 2009

    Hi, kc314 . I too am on a weight loss streak, i need to get down to 10Stone so 2 to lose!! i need to get down to this by March 2010 as i have a girly holiday i want to look trim for! Ive been doing kickboxing and walking to work ..eating healthy, but still seeing no results!!!?? How are you getting on?

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    kc314 said on 13 August 2009

    Hi everyone, im 19 and want to lose 2 stone to get down to my ideal BMI and ideal weight of 10stone. I'm hoping to use this site as a sort of online blog and would appreciate if other people trying to lose weight would like to comment and discuss our success/slip ups together. I'm currently playing tennis once a week, going to the gym once a week, doing martial arts trainning once a week and running once a week. I've been doing this for about 3 weeks but currently still not lost a pound :( any advice? I eat a very healthy diet with little/no junk food (im proud to say i eat less than 1 bag of crisps a week)

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    User214703 said on 27 March 2009

    Reliability of pedometers - they differ greatly -

    I read 2 articles recently saying that cheap pedometers are completely unreliable. They give false high readings - as they are over-sensitive to all movement, not just walking. I then researched the most reliable ones - and 1 name kept being recommended: Omron.

    Dont worry - I dont work for Omron. Im actually notable to work at all as am ill. I write this as I think an awful lot think an awful lot of folk out there are walking with cheap pedometers, thinking they are doing their 10,000 when they are not.

    Anyway I bought the Omron for £15 on Amazon (the round one!) and I wore my cheap one as well to compare the numbers. It was staggering: the cheap one said I had walked an incredible 1,500 more than the Omron.

    Hence this alert : )

    Dont give up, buy a reliable pedometer (think that means spending at least £12). The better ones also tell you miles covered/calories burnt/fat burnt....and my one also gives two seperate step readings for both total steps, andone for aerobi steps. Good luck!

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    weenbean said on 21 February 2009

    What's the British heart Foundation Diet?
    I used to weigh 4 stone less than I do now - before I passed my driving test and got a car! (18 years ago) I really want to lose weight and be fitter (2 stone would be good) but seem to have lost my willpower! My environment is not condusive to a healthy lifestyle but maybe someone out there is having more success and can encourage me?

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    Rosanna26 said on 17 February 2009

    Pedometers are now available in the argos value range for £1.99

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    lillysmummy said on 25 October 2008

    im 17 and have a 2year old little girl. before i fell pregnant i was in size 8 clothes. since my daughters birth 2 years ago i am now in size 14/16.
    i was so stuck on trying to lose weight! i even went to diet clubs. i went to my doctor about a month ago and he refered me to the dietician. i am now on the british heart foundation diet and it is absolutely amazing. i still struggle with excercise, but in a month i have lost 8 pounds. more than i have ever lost before. all together i need to lose a few stone but the way its going i dont think it will be too long!! hope that helps anyone thats not sure on an appropriate diet!

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    jonb8891 said on 10 October 2008

    Because walking isn't effective for losing weight. Your body is efficient at walking. You have to venture out of your comfort zones. Try running.

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    hayley said on 26 August 2008

    i have been walking for three months now and i average 15,300 steps a day min i have not lost weight even though i record evrything i eat im currently having 2000 calories a day as i have beeen recommened to have for this amount of excercise can anybody give me any idea of why im not losing weight thanks

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    golfswing said on 18 August 2008

    i am healthy BMI (despite my slight paunch telling me otherwise) I also do more than 10,000 steps a day which i found amazing. Fitter than i imagined my only health issue is my asthma which taking up golf has helped (all that fresh air and the swing seems to help expand my lungs too).

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    Vicks said on 12 August 2008

    I need to lose about 4 stone to get to a healthy weight, I have a goal time which is in jan 09 as it will be my honeymoon(wedding on 23rd aug) so i want to feel comfortable on the beach and not have my legs rub !! Everyone knows what you need to do to lose weight, eat healthy and be active. But its all to easy to say im too busy or im too tired, but i will not use any of these reasons. I will get off the bus early and not eat rubbish, i may have a treat but 1 biscuit instead of 4, and once a week not every day cos i've been 'good' all day !!
    Im gonna use this site as a diary, i will put my weight on here and every week up date!! wish me luck, and good luck to anyone else. If any one else wish to start a pledge with me than thats great !!!
    Im gonna go for a walk right now. good luck one again x

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    kas said on 01 August 2008

    Hi all,
    Just found this site after looking for some tips. I currently walk about 2 miles a day getting my children to and from school, but while there off I'm finding it really hard. Time to turn this around. I need to loose around 5 stone.Anyone with any ideas? First things first, I'm being good and emptying out the cubboards and freezers fo all the junk.Poor kids, but the ice cream has to go!Good luck to everyone on here. Look forward to hearing some success stories!

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    seb said on 01 August 2008

    have alway sturggled with my weight but walking is the most suitable form of exercise for me because u can do it without realsing and it has resonably fast results, if i do alot of walking in a day i will notice the difference in my body the next day or so. i am going to try counting my steps even when im at home so hopefully by the end of the day i would have taken 10000 steps

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    mal said on 04 July 2008

    Although I prefer to be busy, I really don't enjoy exercising at the gym. I find it so boring.
    I'm going to buy a pedometer and walk my feet off!
    My problem area is my trunk. Under the bust to the top of my thighs. My arms and legs are ok. At 55 I don't expect to look much different but I'll give it a go.
    Good luck to everyone who is trying to tone up or lose weight!

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    valery said on 29 June 2008

    ive just found this website, i did the bmi test and that was ok although i feel like i need to lose a few pounds and tone up so im going to buy a pedometer. I was a bit shocked at the drinks test- i have 3 alcohol free days a week- mon, tues and weds, on thurs i go out and have maybe 5 halves of lager, then on fri, sat and sun i have a bottle of wine at home and i was way over the safe limit, im going to try and cut down a bit now- i must admit to feeling a bit groggy at times, anyway going to fill in my drink diary now

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    valery said on 29 June 2008

    ive just found this website, i did the bmi test and that was ok although i feel like i need to lose a few pounds and tone up so im going to buy a pedometer. I was a bit shocked at the drinks test- i have 3 alcohol free days a week- mon, tues and weds, on thurs i go out and have maybe 5 halves of lager, then on fri, sat and sun i have a bottle of wine at home and i was way over the safe limit, im going to try and cut down a bit now- i must admit to feeling a bit groggy at times, anyway going to fill in my drink diary now

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    Anonymous said on 19 June 2008

    I started training for a sponsored hike by walking 10,000 steps a day and I lost a stone in about a month, but I was also eating sensibly. I tried to avoid carbohydrates in my evening meal and stepped up my wholegrain intake during the day. I filled up with extra veg in the evening with my protein of choice, which meant I was hitting my 5 a day with the fruit and stuff in the day.
    This hs worked for me, so i hope it can help someone else too.
    I've got another 4 stone to lose, but I feel I'm getting somewhere and that i'm in control of the direction my weight is going.

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    Beryl said on 18 June 2008

    Well, I think I need to acquire a pedometer as it seems unlikely that I achieve anything like 10000 steps in a day.
    Generally my eating habits are healthy and I certainly don't want to lose weight, but could do with being more active. I know joining a jym would not suit me, but I will certainly think more about walking places instead of taking the car.
    Thanks for the tip.
    Beryl

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    sudhakar said on 11 June 2008

    Hi folks,
    really it was very tough to have 10000 steps a day initially.it is about 5 miles or 8 kms.within a month you can achieve.if we not who else.

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    Della said on 09 June 2008

    Well, I stumbled upon this website today. I started walking this morning. I walked a little less than a mile..about 200 steps, but I can easily achieve that around the house today, so wish me luck. Hopefully within the next few days walking 10.000 becomes easier because this morning about killed me.

    Here we go guys. Good luck to you all. :)

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    alizoo said on 05 June 2008

    To answer Nouiel's question, the cambridge diet is an extremely low calorie diet. Long term it's not sustainable (and a lot of people immediately regain the weight they've lost when they start eating 'normally' again as they haven't learned about healthy eating) but if you are extremely overweight (ie morbidly obese) it can be a useful start on the journey to relearn how to eat healthily.

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    ready to change my life said on 03 June 2008

    i am about to start the challenge as i feel insecure that i put on 3 stones in 6 months. i am 19 and feel inspired by all your comments

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    noueil said on 30 May 2008

    hi every one, i have just found this site today as i am trying to get help. i took the BMI test and it was 31.67.
    it is really effecting my life in many ways. i am willing to change my life style, my aim is to loose weight and become helthier.
    just i have a question...what is the cambridge diet??

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    Anonymous said on 28 May 2008

    GOOD LUCK BIGGEO, I LOST 4 STONE ON CAMBRIDGE DIET, FELL OFF WAGON TRYING TO GET BACK ON, WENT FROM SIZE 20 TO 14 - FELT GR8 BUT I NEED TO GET BACK ON IT NOW

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    biggeo said on 28 May 2008

    Hi everyone I've just found this site and taken a few of the test on it. I think I need a lot of help if Iam going to make it to my next birthday. BMI test 43.38 Alcohol test 11.4 per day.So Iam going to stop the alcohol and start walking and lose a lot of weight. I think if I had not found this site I would have just went on the way I was but I am going to change and I will let you know how Iam going.
    Good site.

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    deka said on 23 May 2008

    hi/every one iv'e just found this site by surfing the net
    iv'e taken the bmi test not good it tells me to lose a few pounds do more walking.ill change my ways less driving i think and more
    good site by the way!!

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    Lexi said on 21 May 2008

    I have just started using my pedometer a few days ago, and in contrast to Phil, I was shocked how few steps I took. I am a cleaner/barmaid and a mum of four so I was smugly expecting to exceed the 10,000 steps in the first day without any extra effort. Was I wrong? Yup. I sure was. I have now added a dog walk into my daily routine. (Much to my bone idle dog's disgust!) I go with the kids, which is good for them both physically and for us as a family. I am finding it an effort at the moment but am determined to keep it up. I want to improve my fitness and lose weight and this is the first positive step I have taken. Wish me luck!!!

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    phil said on 12 May 2008

    I have had a pedometer for the past 4 weeks and its realy shocking how far I walk in a day. I am busy gardener for a large company, its crazy just how far i walk in a day chasing a lawn mower.
    I am on average walking 19'000 steps a day, walking around 32 miles per week. No wonder i sleep well at night. I've changed my diet and lost 17 pounds since January.

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