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How Many Steps Does Walking A Mile Equal: A Complete Guide on Counting Steps

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As runners, we like to measure progress in speed and miles. So, when they say that we need to hit 10,000 steps a day, runners naturally want to know: how does that translate into miles? Depending on your height and average stride length, that number will vary slightly. 

Keeping track of your daily steps has surprising health benefits, whether you walk or run those daily miles. The next time your smartwatch/fitness tracker tells you that it’s time to get up and walk, you should listen! 

Below, I want to take a quick dive into why getting up and moving is so incredibly important to your health, even for just one mile. 

How Many Steps Are In a Mile? 

The short answer is that there are around 2,000 average steps in one mile, but that number fluctuates slightly depending upon a person’s stride length. 

For instance, a 6-foot tall man naturally has a longer stride, which means their step count per mile decreases; it will be around the 1,700 mark for one mile. A 5-foot 4-inch tall woman will clock in around 2,200 walking steps per mile.

The number of steps tends to shrink as you take smaller steps when running. On average, runners take around 1,500 steps when running.

If you are trying to hit a daily step count and you went for a 5-mile run in the morning, you will likely take around 2,500 fewer steps than if you walked that same stretch of sidewalk or trail. 

A run will elevate your heart rate and is considered moderate to vigorous exercise, so don’t let the lower step count dissuade you!

Do We Need To Hit 10,000 Steps A Day?

They say that we need to hit 10,000 steps a day to maintain an active lifestyle, but who said that exactly, and is it true? I’ve assumed that anything under 10,000 is less than ideal, but 10,000 is a strict number to hit in practice! 

I researched and found that the 10,000 step-a-day count originated as more of a marketing ploy than hard science. 

In the early 1960s, a Japanese clock marker marketed a pedometer with packaging that read “10,000 steps meter”. I wasn’t even alive in the 1960s, but somehow, I’m operating under the assumption that 10,000 steps are the ideal number to hit over 60 years later.

The truth of the matter is that 10,000 steps a day are good, but it’s not essential. 

A modern study conducted in 2019 from Harvard Medical School found that if you are trying to out-walk the grim reaper, there were noticeable results in simply hitting 4,400 steps per day (which translates to just over 2 miles). 

More steps increased your longevity, but that number topped off around 7,500 steps (or around 4 miles). 

Is It Better To Walk Faster Or Longer?

Sure, counting steps is essential, but what about speed? Should you keep your pace light and brisk or walk further at a slower walking speed? It’s an interesting question with a complicated answer. 

A study from The British Journal of Sports Medicine found that brisk walking increases cardiovascular health and reduces the risk of premature death. 

Walking at a brisk pace elevates your heart rate (which is good), burns more calories (also good), but can put more strain on your knees and joints (not so good). 

It would be best if you found what works for you. If you think that you’re more willing and eager to walk a mile at a slow and meditative pace, then go slow! 

Going slow will still burn calories and improve your overall health while taking it easy on your joints. The key here is to stay active. 

If you are more likely to go on a leisurely stroll than a serious power-walking session, go for that leisurely stroll! Step count matters, so stick with enjoyable workouts to avoid skipping a workout. 

Is Walking One Mile A Day Enough?

We often take fitness and physical activity in general as an all-or-nothing approach, and I’m certainly guilty of this. Our lives are busy and often chaotic, so fitting in a little bit of exercise throughout the day is better than nothing! 

The American Heart Association suggests that you need to squeeze in around 150 minutes of exercise per week to improve your heart health. Walking a mile in 22 minutes per day boils down to 154 minutes of exercise per week, right on track.

In addition to the obvious health benefits such as a stronger heart and lower mortality rate, walking 1 mile per day is an excellent form of self-care. 

I call my daily walks a way to “sort some files” in my brain. It’s a perfect way to work through problems, get some much-needed fresh air, and take care of myself physically and mentally. 

A good workout doesn’t necessarily mean an 8-mile run or a 40-minute cross-training session.

Sometimes, the best exercises are the times where you lace up your walking shoes, lower the volume, and disconnect a while as you put some steps behind you!

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