How many steps are in a mile varies from person to person based on your height, step length, and walking speed. However, based on an estimated average step length—the distance between the initial contact of the first foot and the initial contact of the second foot—of two and a half feet, there are about 2,000 steps in 1 mile.
This article discusses the number of steps in a mile, the health benefits of walking, and ways to incorporate more steps into your day.
Measuring Steps in a Mile
How many steps you take in a mile depends on your pace (i.e., whether you’re walking or running) and height (i.e., the length of your steps). If you’re curious about your step length, you can measure them.
Using water, a tape measure, and a dry section of the sidewalk (or a long roll of paper stretched out on a flat surface), do the following:
- Wet the bottom of your feet.
- Walk at your average pace for at least 10 steps.
- Measure the distance between the heel of one foot and the heel of the next foot in inches.
- Repeat for several steps.
- Add the total distance of all the measured steps.
- Divide by the number of steps measured for your average step length.
One mile is 5,280 feet, or 63,360 inches. To estimate the steps you will take to walk a mile, divide 63,360 inches by your average step length in inches.
Walking Versus Running
Walking steps are shorter than running steps, so running a mile takes fewer total steps than walking a mile. Speed also impacts the number of steps in a mile. The faster you walk a mile, the more steps you’ll take. However, the opposite is true for running—the quicker you run, the fewer steps you’ll take.
Your height also impacts how many steps you take to complete 1 mile. Shorter individuals typically have shorter steps than taller individuals—meaning the shorter you are, the more steps you’ll take per mile.
Benefits of Daily Walking
There are many benefits of daily walking, and they aren’t just physical.
Benefits of walking can include:
How Many Miles Is 10,000 Steps?
Based on an average step length of 2 1/2 feet, 10,000 steps is roughly equal to 5 miles. However, due to factors such as your height and walking speed, this number can vary. Online calculators can help determine how many miles you’ll cover in 10,000 steps.
10,000 Steps Isn’t for Everyone
Many fitness trackers have a default daily step goal of 10,000. While this is often viewed as the “ideal” daily step count, that doesn’t mean it’s appropriate for everyone. The origin of the 10,000-step “gold standard” dates back to 1965 when a Japanese company designed a device with a name that translated to “10,000 steps meter.”
Quality Over Quantity
People with physical, mental, or environmental barriers to getting 10,000 steps daily shouldn’t be discouraged. The original 10,000-step goal was more a marketing tactic than an evidence-based recommendation. Instead of focusing on your number of daily steps, focus on moving your body in ways you enjoy and can do consistently.
Setting Step Goals for Your Body
On average, people living a sedentary lifestyle may only take between 1,000 to 3,000 steps daily. Setting an initial goal of 10,000 could be too much too soon, depending on your current activity level.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the general guidelines for physical activity for adults to receive significant health benefits is a minimum of two and a half hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week.
How does this number compare to counting steps? Based on the average step length a person takes:
- 152 steps per minute while walking at a 15-minute mile pace (4 miles per hour)
- 156 steps per minute when jogging
- 178 steps per minute while running a 12-minute mile (5 miles per hour)
Walking for 30 minutes daily could add roughly 3,000 steps toward your goal.
Before setting a specific step goal for yourself, take note of your current activity level and aim to add to it incrementally.
How to Track Your Steps and Miles
Wearable devices called “pedometers” sense your body movements to count how many steps you take in a day. These tiny devices can be clipped to your clothing and worn throughout the day.
More advanced wearable electronic devices called “accelerometers” are available in smartwatches, such as FitBit. Various phone apps have the same technology. These devices track walking distance and speed.
Shortcuts to Walk More Steps in a Day
If you can’t carve out time for a proper workout, that’s okay. There are many ways you can add more steps to your day:
- Park a little further away from your destination
- Take the stairs rather than the elevator
- Use a bathroom that is further away from your office while at work
- Take a short walk during your lunch break
- Walk on a treadmill while you watch TV
- Take a walk with a friend rather than talking on the phone
How many steps are in a mile depends on many factors, including your height, step length, walking speed, and sex. Based on an average step length of 2 1/2 feet, there are approximately 2,000 steps in 1 mile. You can use step-counting devices, such as pedometers and accelerometers, to help count your daily steps and set an appropriate daily step goal.
Harvard Health Publishing. Counting every step you take.
The Ohio State University. Activities to steps conversion chart.
AARP. 8 great reasons to walk more.
Harvard Health Publishing. 5 surprising benefits of walking.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Walking.
Harvard Health Publishing. 10,000 steps a day—or fewer?
Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Executive summary. Physical activity guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition.
Freak-Poli RL, Cumpston M, Albarqouni L, Clemes SA, Peeters A. Workplace pedometer interventions for increasing physical activity. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2020;2020(7):CD009209. doi:10.1002%2F14651858.CD009209.pub3
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