How to Set a Pedometer With Steps Per Mile

Written by kathleen buczko
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How to Set a Pedometer With Steps Per Mile
A pedometer can be a valuable tool in any fitness program. (pedometer with tape measure image by Andrew Brown from

A pedometer is worn on the body during walking or running and counts the steps or strides a person has taken. Pedometers have become more popular over the past several years to allow walkers and runners to easily monitor distance covered. But the pedometer actually is over 200 hundred years old and its invention is attributed to Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States. While electronic pedometers can calculate distance covered, the use of all pedometers requires that the user know the length of his stride. Multiplying the number of steps/strides taken by the length of a step/stride provides a good estimate of distance covered.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Measuring tape
  • Calculator

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  1. 1

    Find a "test track" that can be measured and safely walked/run. If you have access to a sports field of known length, 300 feet for American football, or a running track and can safely walk or run that known distance, use that known distance and skip Steps 2 and 3.

  2. 2

    Secure one end of the tape measure, or have another person hold it, at the beginning of the "test track."

  3. 3

    Measure 20 feet minimum to 50 feet maximum length for the test track.

  4. 4

    With the end of one heel at the start of the track, walk/run across the measured distance.

  5. 5

    Count the number of steps it takes to cover the distance.

  1. 1

    Calculate the average step length measured in feet by dividing the distance run or walked by the number steps counted in crossing the test track.

  2. 2

    Divide 5,280, the number of feet in 1 mile, by the average step length to get the number of steps per mile.

  3. 3

    Use the number of steps per mile as dictated by the owner's manual for the pedometer.

Tips and warnings

  • Longer distances are better to estimate stride length. A football field at 300 feet would provide a better estimate of stride length than 20 feet. A mile walk calculated on a running track would be more accurate than the football field
  • Some pedometers may calculate a stride based on two steps--use the average step length calculated to arrive at a stride length calculated by the pedometer according to its instructions.
  • Consult a physician before starting any new physical fitness program.

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