How many steps are in a mile?

Article Category: Units  |   

A pedometer looking up the number of steps - photo

The mile has become universally known as the distance marker unit of choice for walkers or runners measuring activity achievement. That said, we do live in a world where imperial and metric awkwardly co-exist and so I'm happy to include both mile and kilometer calculations.

Let's take a look at a couple of the possible reasons why you might be reading this article. Perhaps you're an avid runner and are wondering how many steps it takes you to jog or run a mile.

Or maybe you're just interested in your daily walking habits and have become the proud owner of a new pedometer. It seems that a study is published on almost a weekly basis advising us to get more active and the current guidance suggests that we should be walking at least 10,000 steps per day. Indeed, the NHS in the UK mentions on their website that setting yourself a target of walking 10,000 steps a day is a fun target. They go on to mention that a person aged 45 and weighing 70kg (about 11 stone) can burn about 400kcal by walking 10,000 steps briskly (3 - 5mph).

Now, 10,000 steps seems like a large number, but it gives us no idea about what distance it covers. So, how far is 10,000 steps and how many steps are there in a mile or kilometer? Let's find out...

How many steps?

Before we begin with the figures, I will state the obvious: The answer to this question can vary greatly depending on the size of your stride. A stride for a 7ft tall runner will be very much longer than that of a 4ft tall person of shorter stature enjoying a casual walk.

For an average person:

  • 1 mile = 2,000 steps
  • 1 km = 1,250 steps
  • 10,000 steps = 5 miles

On the basis that a person of average height has a stride length of about 2.1 to 2.5 feet we can say that approximately 2,000 walking/jogging steps make up a mile. This means that 10,000 steps converts to around 5 miles, with average stride length.

If you want the figure for one kilometer (or kilometre with British spelling) then you're looking at about 1,250 walking/jogging steps.

If you desire a more accurate answer for your own stride length then read on...

Step guidelines - a study

In a study published in The American College of Sports Medicine in 2007, researchers sought to find out the number of steps men and women took to walk one mile at 20 and 15-minute paces and compare them to those running one mile at 12, 10, 8 and 6-minute paces.

So, what were the results? Well, the average number of steps required to run/walk a mile ranged from 1,064 steps for a six-minute-mile pace in men to 2,310 steps for a 20-minute per mile walk in women. Of note was that on average, individuals took more steps while running (jogging) a 12-minute mile than while walking a 15-minute mile (1,951 against 1,935 steps, respectively). The researchers commented that this finding was most likely related to the smaller distance between steps that people tend to take while jogging at the slower speed (12-minute miles) compared to walking at a 15-minute per mile pace.

Accurate steps in a mile calculation for your stride length

If you're after an exact answer for the number of steps in a mile or kilometer for your body then try the following (you will need a tape measure or other measuring device):

  1. Take 10 steps (making sure you either run or walk, depending on which stride you want to measure), measure the distance in feet and then divide by 10 to get your average stride length.
  2. There are 5,280 feet in a mile. So, divide 5,280 by your stride length figure to get your number of steps in a mile. If you want the answer in kilometers, divide 3,280 by your stride length figure to get your number of steps in 1 km.

Should you need to convert between feet, inches, centimeters and meters, you can use our handy length and distance calculator.

I hope this article has assisted you in working out how active you currently are. And, just think - the next time someone tells you that you're only 1 step away from achieving something, you'll know just how far that is.

Alastair Hazell

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Last update: 07 November 2016

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