Wayne Curtis reviews recent research:
A study published in 2010 rigged up 1,136 Americans with pedometers, and concluded that we walk an average of 5,117 steps every day. (No surprise: that was significantly less than in other countries studied — both Australians and the Swiss walked around 9,600 steps daily, and the Japanese 7,100.)
It wasn't always this way:
Undertaking a 10- or 15-mile mile walk was once something Americans might do routinely in an afternoon. No special note was made of it. In 1906, just as cars were coming into vogue, the nation was afflicted by a small outbreak of long-distance walking — multi-day walking races and long-distance walkers seemed to be tromping everywhere. A splenetic editorial in American Gymnasia magazine took a dim view of the attention being lavished on the long-distance walks. "It is simply another mark of the degree of physical degeneracy (is that too strong a term?) of the present day that long walks are uncommon enough to excite special attention — not 1,200 mile walks but even 50-mile trips. And for most of us ten miles is a distance to cover which we must use much effort, and having made it are quite sure to indulge in self-praise."