How Many Walking Steps Are in a Mile?

Walking - Taking a Step
Walking - Taking a Step. Ruslan Dashinsky/E+/Getty Images

How many steps per mile are typical for walkers using a pedometer? A typical number of steps per mile is between 2,000 and 2,500 steps, but it depends on your stride length and varies from person to person. For a quick rule of thumb, a research study found these average steps per mile at walking and running speeds:

  • Walking 20 minutes per mile (3 miles per hour): 2250 steps per mile
  • Walking 15 minutes per mile (4 miles per hour): 1950 steps per mile
  • Running 12 minutes per mile (5 miles per hour): 1950 steps per mile
  • Running 10 minutes per mile (6 miles per hour): 1700 steps per mile
  • Running 8 minutes per mile (7.5 miles per hour): 1400 steps per mile

Measuring your stride length will give you a much more accurate number for your personal steps per mile. Your stride length can vary depending on whether you are walking or running, and whether you are on hills, rough trails, or have a lot of street crossings with starts and stops.

Steps Per Mile Estimated by Height

A widely quoted estimate of stride length is 42% of height, although further research shows that ratio is only moderately accurate. Rough estimates of steps per mile based on a stride to height ratio are:

  • Height - Steps per Mile
  • 4'10" - 2,601
  • 4'11" - 2,557
  • 5'0" - 2,514
  • 5'1" - 2,473
  • 5'2" - 2,433
  • 5'3" - 2,395
  • 5'4" - 2,357
  • 5'5" - 2,321
  • 5'6" - 2,286
  • 5'7" - 2,252
  • 5'8" - 2,218
  • 5'9" - 2,186
  • 5'10" - 2,155
  • 5'11" - 2,125
  • 6'0" - 2,095
  • 6'1" - 2,067
  • 6'2" - 2,039
  • 6'3" - 2,011
  • 6'4" - 1,985

Measuring Your Steps per Mile

The best way to find your average steps per mile is to count them over a course of a mile, several times, and find your own average. You can use a step counting pedometer to do this.

To find a measured mile, you can use a regulation quarter-mile track at a local school.

You may have to ask the coach to ensure it is a quarter-mile track (1,320 feet) rather than a 400-meter track (1,308 feet). Walk in the inside lane only. Count your steps. It's best to go around four times to get a full mile on a quarter-mile track so you won't need to do any math. For a 400 meter track, go around four times and multiply your steps by 1.009.

You may also use an online mapping site or app to map you a mile course in your local area, then walk it with a pedometer.

If you are looking for a pedometer that will accurately count your steps, I can recommend these as top choices to buy from Amazon.com.

  • Fitbit Zip: The waistband/pocket version of Fitbit.
  • Omron HJ-321 Tri-Axis Pedometer: No computer or mobile app needed, it's a highly reliable old-school pedometer to wear on your waistband or in a pocket.

Steps per Mile from Stride Length

Most pedometers have you enter your stride length in order for them to estimate your distance. This distance is from the heel print of one foot to the heel print of the other foot.

This is the distance traveled forward by a single leg. An average that you will see listed in many places is 2.2 feet (0.67 meters) for women and 2.5 feet (0.762 meters) for men, but it depends very much on height. Steps per mile would be 5,280 feet divided by your stride length in feet. A pedometer takes the number you have entered as stride length and divides a mile by that number to calculate the distance you have walked.

Correcting Your Pedometer Distance

  • If you find that your pedometer is telling you that you have gone farther than a mile in a measured mile, then increase the stride length programmed in the pedometer.
  • If it is telling you that you have gone less than a mile in a measured mile, then reduce your stride length programmed into the pedometer.
  • Fitness trackers you wear on your wrist may be counting arm motion rather than steps. Read the instructions to see how to set its sensitivity so it isn't over-counting steps.
  • How to Set Your Pedometer

Sources:

Werner W.K. Hoeger, Ed.D., FACSM, Laura Bond, M.S., Lynda Ransdell, Ph.D., FACSM, Jane M. Shimon, Ed.D., A.T.C., and Sunitha Merugu, B.S., P.T. "One-Mile Step Count at Walking and Running Speeds"  ACSM’s Health & Fitness Journal, January/February 2008, Vol. 12, No. 1.

HATANO, Y. "Use of the pedometer for promoting daily walking exercise." Int. Council Health Phys. Educ. Recreat. 29:4 - 8, 1993.

TIAGO V. BARREIRA, DAVID A. ROWE, and MINSOO KANG, "Parameters of Walking and Jogging in Healthy Young Adults," International Journal of Exercise Science. Vol. 3 (2010) Iss. 1.

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