Mental Floss

How Many Steps Are in a Mile?

Ellen Gutoskey
It doesn't matter if you're wearing your shoes or someone else's—but it does matter how tall you are.
It doesn't matter if you're wearing your shoes or someone else's—but it does matter how tall you are. / travnikovstudio/iStock via Getty Images

Needless to say, the number of steps in a mile depends on who’s taking the steps. The taller you are, the more distance you’ll cover in a single step, so the number is going to be a lot higher for a 7-year-old than, say, Shaquille O'Neal. Height isn’t the only variable: Your speed impacts the total, too.

That said, the ballpark figure for how many steps you need to walk a mile is probably somewhere around 2000, give or take a few hundred. In a 2008 study, as The Calculator Site reports, a group of researchers tracked the steps of 44 participants as they walked a mile on a treadmill at two different speeds: 15 and 20 minutes per mile, respectively. The average number of steps was 1935 for the former and 2252 for the latter.

Being generally taller than the women, the men also took slightly longer strides: Their averages came out to 1868 for the 15-minute mile and 2176 for the 20-minute one. The women’s averages were 1987 and 2310, respectively. Other participants were asked to run miles at certain speeds, from 6 to 12 minutes per mile. The average number of steps for an 8-minute mile, for instance, was 1400: 1469 for the women, and 1360 for the men.

The researchers recorded the participants’ heights, too, and used them in conjunction with their step totals to create a pretty comprehensive chart estimating how many steps people at different heights would need to traverse a mile at different speeds. A 5-foot-tall woman walking an 18-minute mile, for example, would take an estimated 2244 steps. A 6-foot, 4-inch-tall man walking a 14-minute mile would take 1732 steps. If that same man were running a 6-minute mile, he’d only take about 920 steps. You can see the full chart in the study here (it’s table four), published in the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health & Fitness Journal.

While the number of steps in a mile varies widely, the number of feet in a mile never does: It’s always 5280. As for why, the story involves ancient Romans, oxen, and British Parliament.