What Are the Average Steps Per Minute for Different Exercises?

Pedometer Step Equivalents for Elliptical, Biking, and Other Activities

man running in park checking fitness watch

Verywell

If you forgot to wear your pedometer or if you want to give yourself pedometer step credit for a wider range of activities, there are a few ways you can determine the step equivalents. One tool is a chart that compares metabolic equivalent for task (MET) for various activities and converts them into steps per minute.

In some cases, your activity will register steps on a pedometer, activity monitor, or phone app. But the chart might give you more steps per minute because the activity you are doing is a higher intensity exercise (it burns more calories per minute than walking).

Average Steps per Mile

Here are some quick rules of thumb for steps per mile for walking and running, as measured by researchers.

  • 1 mile = 2,200 average steps walking at a pace of 20 minutes per mile
  • 1 mile = 1,800 average steps jogging at 12 minutes per mile
  • 1 mile = 1,600 steps running at 10 minutes per mile
  • 1 mile = 1,400 steps running at 8 minutes per mile
  • 1 block = 200 average walking steps

Elliptical Trainer Step Equivalents

Is doing a mile on an elliptical the same as walking a mile? It is difficult to give accurate step equivalents for using an elliptical trainer because there is a wide variation in the calories burned by different people using the same settings.

One study, published in 2006, found that the calorie burn was overestimated by most elliptical machines. Looking at METs, elliptical activity is roughly equivalent to brisk walking:

  • Light intensity elliptical training: 4.6 METs, aligns with walking 3.75 mph, or 127 steps per minute
  • Moderate intensity elliptical training: 4.9 METs, aligns with walking 4.0 mph, or 132 steps per minute
  • Vigorous intensity elliptical training: 5.7 METs, aligns with walking 4.3 mph, or 137 steps per minute

Steps Per Minute Equivalents

These step equivalents are based on metabolic equivalent for task (MET), which allows comparisons of the amount of exertion required for different activities. However, since the movements are very different, the estimates are rough.

"For non-rhythmic activities (where walking or running would be an example of a rhythmic, patterned movement), step estimates are not going to be accurate over a period of time," says Elroy Aguiar, PhD, assistant professor of exercise science at the University of Alabama. "There are so many variables that would change step rate when these activities are continued for five, ten, or twenty minutes or more." Bear that in mind as you consider these step equivalents.

Step Equivalents by Minute of Activity
Activity MET
Steps in 1 minute
Jumping rope  11.8 180
Bicycling fast 10.0 170
Swimming laps (vigorous intensity) 9.8 165
Skiing, cross country (moderate to vigorous) 9.0 160
Stair-climbing machine 9.0 160
Rowing machine (vigorous) 8.5 153
Step aerobics 8.5 153
Basketball game 8.0 150
Circuit training (vigorous) 8.0 150
Backpacking 7.8 149
Dancing (square, folk, country) 7.8 149
Bicycling (moderate intensity) 7.5 147
Aerobic dance (moderate to vigorous) 7.3 146
Squash 7.3 146
Tennis (singles) 7.3 146
Racquetball 7.0 145
Inline skating or roller skating 7.0 145
Soccer 7.0 145
Swimming laps (moderate) 5.8 138
Skiing (downhill) 5.3 134
Hiking 5.3 134
Water aerobics 5.3 134
Kayaking 5.0 132
Softball, baseball, kickball (recreational) 5.0 132
Aerobic dance (low intensity) 5.0 132
Rowing machine (moderate) 4.8 130
Golf (no cart) 4.8 130
Circuit training (moderate intensity) 4.3 122
Bicycling under 10 mph 4.0 119
Table tennis 4.0 119
Gardening or raking leaves 3.8 115
Canoeing 3.5 112
Weight-lifting 3.5 112
House cleaning 3.3 110
Pilates 3.0 105
Tai chi 3.0 105
Bowling 3.0 105
Yoga 2.8 95

More Ways to Track Physical Activity

When you're participating in an activity that doesn't lend itself well to step tracking, consider measuring your efforts in another way. For example, it's easy to log how many minutes you were active.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "for substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes to 150 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity... spread throughout the week."

Another option is to look at calories burned. This calculator helps you determine how many calories you are likely to burn while participating in various physical activities. If you are trying to lose weight or maintain a weight loss, knowing the number of calories you're expending, as well as consuming, can help you monitor energy balance.

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Article Sources
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  2. Mier CM, Feito Y. Metabolic cost of stride rate, resistance, and combined use of arms and legs on the elliptical trainer. Res Q Exerc Sport. 2006;77(4):507-13. DOI: 10.1080/02701367.2006.10599385

  3. Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, et al. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities: a second update of codes and MET values. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011;43(8):1575-81. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31821ece12

  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, 2nd edition. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2018. 

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