We’ve all been told that walking more is excellent for your health. It can lower your blood pressure, improve overall heart health, and help you lose weight.
We’re also told that we should aim for 10,000 steps each day to reap the rewards of increasing our step count.
But what we aren’t told is how far we need to walk to achieve this goal. Sure, you can use a fitness tracker or pedometer to get a rough idea, but they’re not always accurate.
That’s why we’ll explore how many steps are in a mile, how to calculate precisely how many steps it will take you to walk that distance, how long it can take you, and much more.
For the average person, it would take between 2,000 and 2,500 steps, averaging out to 2,250 steps in a mile. This is just a rough estimate since an accurate calculation can only be made once your height, step length, stride length, and other factors are considered.
This is why the average number of steps in a mile is typically given as a range, as it will vary from person to person. But there are ways to find out exactly how many steps it will take you. Let’s explore them below.
Height plays a significant role in how many steps it takes to walk a mile. It’s the reason why most pedometers and step calculators ask for your height before they begin tracking your step count.
The average step length of a person – the distance they travel with one step – is known to be between 41% and 45% of the individual’s height. This means that taller people tend to have a longer step length than someone who is shorter and, therefore, take fewer steps to walk the same distance.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that two people of the same height will have the same step length. There is variation amongst humans based on our genes.
For instance, you could have two people who are both 6 feet tall. Person A may have a longer torso that makes up their total height, whereas Person B may have longer legs. Comparing the step length of these two people will produce different results.
However, to calculate the average step length of the average person, we will use a base measurement that their step length is 42% of their height. Using this, the average steps per mile by height are as follows:
|5 feet 0 inches||2,514 steps per mile|
|5 feet 1 inch||2,473 steps per mile|
|5 feet 2 inches||2,433 steps per mile|
|5 feet 3 inches||2,395 steps per mile|
|5 feet 4 inches||2,357 steps per mile|
|5 feet 5 inches||2,321 steps per mile|
|5 feet 6 inches||2,286 steps per mile|
|5 feet 7 inches||2,252 steps per mile|
|5 feet 8 inches||2,218 steps per mile|
|5 feet 9 inches||2,186 steps per mile|
|5 feet 10 inches||2,155 steps per mile|
|5 feet 11 inches||2,125 steps per mile|
|6 feet 0 inches||2,095 steps per mile|
|6 feet 1 inch||2,067 steps per mile|
|6 feet 2 inches||2,039 steps per mile|
|6 feet 3 inches||2,011 steps per mile|
|6 feet 4 inches||1,985 steps per mile|
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the average height for an American man is 69.1 inches. This equates to 5 feet and 9 inches. When factoring in just height, the average American male takes 2,186 steps to walk a mile.
CDC data also shows that the average height of an American woman is 63.7 inches. This equates to 5 feet 4 inches. When factoring in just height, the average American female takes 2,357 steps to walk a mile. As you can see, the average male takes fewer steps than the average female to walk the same distance.
Alongside height and step length, another major component of calculating the number of steps it takes to walk a mile is the speed at which they are walking.
This is because your step length tends to be longer when you walk faster. As such, the number of steps you take to walk the same distance decreases.
To put walking speeds into context, if you are walking at 2 miles per hour (mph), the speed would be considered a slow walk or a leisurely stroll. 3 mph is seen as the average walking speed for most people. Brisk walks would be for those who are walking at 4 mph, and 5 mph would be viewed as a jog. 6 mph is seen as a run.
When factoring in the average height of an American male (5 feet 9 inches) and the average walking speed (3 mph), they take 2,226 steps per mile.
|Walking speed||Step count|
|2 mph||2,866 steps per mile|
|2.5 mph||2,482 steps per mile|
|3 mph||2,226 steps per mile|
|3.5 mph||2,043 steps per mile|
|4 mph||1,906 steps per mile|
|4.5 mph||1,799 steps per mile|
At the average walking speed (3 mph), the average American female (5 feet 4 inches) takes 2,326 steps per mile.
|Walking speed||Step count|
|2 mph||2,966 steps per mile|
|2.5 mph||2,582 steps per mile|
|3 mph||2,326 steps per mile|
|3.5 mph||2,143 steps per mile|
|4 mph||2,006 steps per mile|
|4.5 mph||1,900 steps per mile|
This means that the difference in step count between males and females walking at the same speed is 100 steps.
We’ve already discussed step length, which is the distance from the heel of one foot to the other foot – i.e., taking one step. However, this differs from stride length.
Stride length is the distance from the heel of one foot to the heel of the same foot – i.e., taking two steps.
Much like step lengths, your average stride length will vary depending on the speed at which you are walking and whether you are walking up or downhill. For the topic of calculating step counts per mile, we will assume you are walking on a flat surface.
The average stride length for an adult is between 26 and 30 inches (2.2 and 2.5 feet). Since women are shorter on average, they tend to have a shorter stride length compared to males. If you don’t have the means or time to measure your own stride length, you can use the table below to find a rough estimate based on your height.
Female stride length
Male stride length
|5 feet 0 inches||25 inches||25 inches|
|5 feet 1 inch||25 inches||25 inches|
|5 feet 2 inches||26 inches||26 inches|
|5 feet 3 inches||26 inches||26 inches|
|5 feet 4 inches||26 inches||27 inches|
|5 feet 5 inches||27 inches||27 inches|
|5 feet 6 inches||27 inches||27 inches|
|5 feet 7 inches||28 inches||28 inches|
|5 feet 8 inches||28 inches||28 inches|
|5 feet 9 inches||28 inches||29 inches|
|5 feet 10 inches||29 inches||29 inches|
|5 feet 11 inches||29 inches||29 inches|
|6 feet 0 inches||30 inches||30 inches|
|6 feet 1 inch||30 inches||30 inches|
|6 feet 2 inches||31 inches||31 inches|
|6 feet 3 inches||31 inches||31 inches|
|6 feet 4 inches||31 inches||32 inches|
Once you know your stride length, you can determine your step count per mile by making one of two simple calculations:
- Step count per mile = 5,280 ÷ your stride length in feet
- Step count per mile = 63,360 ÷ your stride length in inches
Or by using the table below.
|Stride length||Step count|
|24 inches||2,640 steps per mile|
|25 inches||2,534 steps per mile|
|26 inches||2,436 steps per mile|
|27 inches||2,346 steps per mile|
|28 inches||2,263 steps per mile|
|29 inches||2,184 steps per mile|
|30 inches||2,112 steps per mile|
|31 inches||2,044 steps per mile|
|32 inches||1,980 steps per mile|
At the average walking speed of 3 miles per hour, it would take the average person 20 minutes to walk a mile. But as you’ve probably guessed, this varies from person to person and will depend on a few factors.
Including your height and stride length, you must also factor in your fitness level and whether you are walking up or downhill, as this will significantly influence your walking speed.
A 2011 study found that adults should aim for 10,000 steps per day in order to truly reap the health benefits of cardio exercise. At a brisk pace (4 miles per hour), this would mean walking anywhere between 4.5 to 5 miles each day.
According to data from the CDC, the average adult should target at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense physical activity per week to reduce the risk of chronic diseases and health problems.
You could split this up whichever way is more convenient for you, but an example could be walking for 22 minutes daily at a brisk pace. This would result in walking for 1.5 miles per day or taking around 3,000 steps.
Taking 10,000 steps a day comfortably surpasses the CDC recommendations and ensures your body stays healthy by lowering blood pressure, improving blood circulation, and burning more calories – which in turn can help you lose excess weight.
Depending on your height, walking speed, and stride length, walking 10,000 steps will take you between 60 to 80 minutes. But when you consider the number of steps you take on a daily basis by doing day-to-day activities, you may find that you need way less time to hit the 10,000-step mark.
Life can get busy, and it can be challenging to dedicate time to walking. But you can make simple and easy changes to your daily routines that will help you increase your step count.
- Take the stairs instead of using elevators
- As part of your morning routine, go for a 10-20 minute walk. This also has the benefit of getting you sunlight in the morning and clearing your head before you start your day
- When running errands, park your car further away in the parking lot to force yourself to walk more
- Set the alarm on your phone to go for a quick 5-10 minute walk every hour, even when at work
- Invest in a treadmill and watch your favorite movies and shows while using it