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There are 2,000 steps in a mile. But here's why taking more may be healthier

There are approximately 2,000 steps in one mile. Learn the factors that influence how many steps we take — and why taking more steps per mile may be healthier.
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The average American only walks between 3,000-4,000 steps per day, according to the Mayo Clinic. Anything under 5,000 steps a day is considered sedentary. (Although, it’s important to note that even this amount of steps is linked with health benefits, so every step counts!)

This means that the average American is walking under 2 miles a day. Are you one of them? Many people are motivated by data. So here are the numbers you need to know when it comes to walking steps and mileage. Hopefully they will encourage you to lace up your sneakers and get those steps in! 

How many steps are in a mile? 

There are approximately 2,000 steps in a mile. While this is a good estimate, it’s important to note that the number of steps each person takes per mile will vary based on height, range of motion, fitness level and balance. It can take up to 2,500 steps on average to reach 1 mile. Because we all walk at different paces with different gaits and on different terrain, fitness trackers and step counters are a popular way to see how many steps you personally take in a mile. 

How many miles is 10,000 steps?

Using 2,000 steps in one mile as an average benchmark, 10,000 steps is approximately 5 miles.

Factors that influence how many steps are in a mile

Imagine lining up next to a group of people of different ages, heights and ranges of motion with a finish line one mile away. Do you think that everyone in the group would cross the finish line in the exact same number of steps? Probably not, right?

Factors such as age, height, gait and even range of motion do have an affect on step count. Take for example someone who is 5’3” and someone who is 6’1” walking side by side. The shorter individual will take more steps than the taller individual because her limbs are shorter, which means her stride length is shorter and she will cover less ground with each step.

How many steps are in a mile running vs. walking?

For most people, our stride length (or the distance we cover in one step) grows longer the faster we move. While it takes about 2,000-2,500 steps to walk a mile, someone who is running can cover the same distance in 1,000-2,000 steps.

How to count steps and miles

If you’re into technology, there are many options for tracking steps, including wearable equipment or an app on your phone or smart watch. This will give you the most precise calculation of how many steps you’re taking. If you’re more old school, you can measure your steps by tracking miles along a track in your local gym or neighborhood. By using 2,000 steps in a mile as a benchmark, this method will give you an approximation of how many steps you are walking.

Does it matter how many steps you take in a mile?

It's great to know how many steps you take in a mile, as tracking your steps can benefit you in the long run. Research has shown that those who track their steps tend to walk an average of 2,500 more steps per day than those that do not track. By tracking your steps, it becomes a motivator to increase your daily step count.

Is increasing your steps per mile a good goal?

Increasing your steps per mile does have some health benefits. Shorter strides are gentler on your bones, joints and tissues. A shorter stride reduces the amount of impact that the knee joint has to absorb with each step. While walking in shorter strides you will also expend more energy to propel yourself forward faster, which will increase your heart rate and burn more calories

How many steps should you take a day?

According to the CDC most adults should aim for 10,000 steps per day. One study showed that adults who took 8,000 steps per day had a 51% lower risk of dying by any cause compared to someone who only completed 4,000 steps per day. But every step really does count! As previously reported by TODAY, recent research found that an average of 3,600 steps a day could reduce the risk of heart failure by 26%! That’s about a mile and half of walking per day. 

Easy ways to increase your daily step count

When it comes to helping my clients increase their daily step count, I like to take a two-pronged approach. First, setting aside dedicated time in your schedule for cardio exercise like walking or running will definitely increase your step count. It’s also smart to get more non-exercise movement in throughout the day. I have found this to be where many people really rack up the extra steps! Some easy ways to squeeze in steps throughout the day include: 

  • Park further away at the store.
  • Take your dog for a walk each day.
  • Set an alarm to get up and do a lap around the office or your house once an hour.
  • Use a walking pad if you work at a desk.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator.
  • Take a dance break! Play your favorite song and dance it out for a few minutes in the morning or after work.