How many steps are there in a mile? What is the average stride length based on height? If you’re out there pounding the pavement in order to get fit, you’re probably working towards a goal like 10,000 steps per day. How far do you need to go to get those 10,000 steps? Knowing these answers can help you plan out your walks and figure out how far you’ll need to go to hit a 10,000 step goal.
It turns out the answer varies between individual people. Science has come up with some general rules of thumb for how many steps you may get in a mile. It’s based on height and other individual factors as well as your walking speed. Don’t worry, we’ve got all of these covered.
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How many steps are in a mile?
How many steps you get in a mile depends on your height, weight, how fast they’re moving, and dozens of other factors like the length of your legs and your walking gait. This makes a step an imprecise measure of distance, as one person’s step count could yield a very different distance number compared to someone else’s.
According to Livestrong, most people get between 2,000 steps and 2,500 steps for every mile walked. This means that if you’re getting 10,000 steps in a day, you’ll walk around 5 miles (8 km) depending on the particulars of your personal stride.
As you increase your speed, you also tend to increase your stride length. According to Science Trends, runners can cover a mile in 1,400 steps or less depending on running speed. The faster you go, the longer your stride tends to be as you’re bouncing from one foot to the next. This makes sense, as walking is defined as a movement where one foot is on the ground at all times. When you run, both feet are often in the air at the same time. This allows you to go further for every step.
What’s in a mile?
Let’s break down a mile into smaller units. A mile is a distance measurement in the English (also known as Imperial) measurement system. A mile is 5,280 feet or 1,760 yards. Most countries in the world (with the US as the largest exception) use the kilometer as a unit of distance.
A mile is longer than a kilometer. 1 mile is about 1.6 kilometers, or to put it another way, 1 kilometer is about 0.6 miles.
Steps per mile by height
Taller people tend to have longer legs, which means they can travel further per step. Men are taller than women on average, and studies show that men may take slightly fewer steps per mile than women even at similar heights. For our purposes. we’ll consider height alone (men vs women would be very close at a similar height).
Your average step length (see below) is between 41% and 45% of your height. That’s the distance you travel with 1 step. We’ll use 42% as our base, which is a common estimate. While taller people get fewer steps per mile (and shorter people more steps per mile), your actual step length is a more accurate estimate. This also assumes an average walking pace – walking faster will result in fewer steps per mile.
Steps per mile by height
- 5’0″ – 2,514 steps/mile
- 5’2″ – 2,433 steps/mile
- 5’3″ – 2,395 steps/mile
- 5’4″ – 2,357 steps/mile
- 5’5″ – 2,321 steps/mile
- 5’6″ – 2,286 steps/mile
- 5’7″ – 2,252 steps/mile
- 5’8″ – 2,218 steps/mile
- 5’9″ – 2,186 steps/mile
- 5’10” – 2,155 steps/mile
- 5’11” – 2,125 steps/mile
- 6’0″ – 2,095 steps/mile
- 6’2″ – 2,039 steps/mile
- 6’4″ – 1,985 steps/mile
- 6’6″ – 1,934 steps/mile
Steps per mile by speed
Height and step length also play a role in steps per mile, so in this case we’ll assume the average male and female height and average step lengths to estimate steps per mile based on walking speed. The ACSM’s Health and Fitness Journal estimates steps per mile based on speed, taking into account sex, height and walking speed. The average height in the US is 5’4″ for women and 5’9″ for men. Here are some numbers:
Steps per mile based on walking speed (5’9″ Male)
- 2 mph – 2,866 steps/mile
- 2.5 mph – 2,482 steps/mile
- 3 mph – 2,226 steps/mile
- 3.5 mph – 2,043 steps/mile
- 4 mph – 1,906 steps/mile
- 4.5 mph – 1,799 steps/mile
Steps per mile based on walking speed (5’4″ Female)
- 2 mph – 2,966 steps/mile
- 2.5 mph – 2,582 steps/mile
- 3 mph – 2,326 steps/mile
- 3.5 mph – 2,143 steps/mile
- 4 mph – 2,006 steps/mile
- 4.5 mph – 1,900 steps/mile
Steps per mile by step length
Many people confuse step length with stride length. Step length is the distance from the heel of one foot to the other as you walk (the distance of one step). Stride length is basically 2 full steps, or the distance between the heel of one foot and the heel of the same foot as you walk two full steps. The average step length for adults is between 2.2 and 2.5 feet (26-30 inches). That’s about 66-76 cm. The average for women is around 26 inches (66 cm) and the average for men is around 31 inches (79 cm)
The average person’s step length is about 0.4 * their height (about 0.41 to 0.45). That means a person who is 6’0″ tall (72 inches) has a step length of about 29.5 inches to 32.4 inches.
Steps per mile by step length
- 22 inches – 2,880 steps/mile
- 24 inches – 2,640 steps/mile
- 26 inches – 2,436 steps/mile
- 28 inches – 2,263 steps/mile
- 30 inches – 2,112 steps/mile
- 32 inches – 1,980 steps/mile
- 34 inches – 1,864 steps/mile
- 36 inches – 1,760 steps/mile
How far do I have to walk to hit my goal?
Most people with a 10,000 step goal don’t try to get all 10,000 steps at one time. It’s certainly possible to get 10k steps in a 5-mile (8 km) walk, but that will take about 1.5-2 miles based on a 3.5 mph (5.6 kph) brisk walking pace. Remember that the average American gets as many as 5,000 steps or more during the normal course of their day. You may only need 2.5 miles of walking to get your 10,000 steps, which you can get in less than an hour. That hour can burn a lot of calories and do wonders for your health.
If you’re planning to get all or more of your steps in one long walk, how far you’ll need to travel to get those steps depends on your walking speed. In terms of time, it’s pretty straightforward. At a casual, 3 mph walk you’ll get a mile in 20 minutes. You’ll need around 40-50 minutes to get that 2.5 miles or 5000 steps depending on stride length. At a brisk 4 mph pace, you’ll be getting a mile every 15 minutes. At this faster pace, your stride length may increase so you still may need 35-40 minutes to get your 5,000 steps in. Faster walking burns more calories and gives a number of health benefits. A great option is to work in fast and slow walking intervals, like this 30-minute walking workout.
Many people don’t get all of their steps at one time, and instead rely on several shorter walks to get their steps. For a fitness walk, you’ll want to set aside at least 10 minutes, which can get you a good half mile or over 1,000 steps. If you’re going to take the time to walk, however, try for a full mile or 2,000 steps. By getting in a mile at each short walk, you’ll only need 2-3 short walks to hit your 10,000 step goal for the day.
Tips to hit your goals
Walking has great benefits for both your physical and mental health. If you want to make sure you get your 10k steps in every day, there are a few things you can do to give yourself a bit of an edge.
Walk with a friend: Women’s Health cites a study showing that just telling someone about their goals gave study participants a 65% chance of completing them. Actually meeting someone face-to-face to exercise together increased those chances to 95%! Having someone to walk with can make the activity less lonely, while also giving you someone to help hold you accountable for reaching your daily goals.
Break your walking into chunks: If you don’t have a full hour on your schedule to commit, what about four or five 15-minute blocks throughout the day? Breaking up your steps can help you feel less overwhelmed, and make them easier to get. Studies have shown that just 2-5 minutes of walking every hour can undo the negative effects of an hour of sitting. It may not be easy with a desk job, but you can find short breaks to walk if you work at it!
Make Walking a Routine: Habits are tough to form, but even tougher to break. If you want to make sure you get your step goal in every day, then you need to commit to make walking a daily habit. Pretty soon it will just become a reflex! We think morning walking is one of the best habits you can form, but any time of the day can work just as well!
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