How to Calculate Stride Length By Height

Set Your Pedometer or Fitness Tracker for Better Distance Measurement

Man checking fitness tracker

Verywell / Ryan Kelly

Make your pedometer or fitness tracker distance measurement more accurate by adjusting it for your average stride length or average step length. Fitness monitors usually use a default stride length to estimate distance, with each step assumed to be 2.2 feet (26 inches) for women and 2.5 feet (30 inches) for men.

You might cover more or less distance with each step, so adjusting this number will allow your pedometer to be more accurate in its distance reading. First, read the instructions for your fitness monitor or pedometer carefully. Most ask for the step length, although they may call it the stride length. Here's how to understand and measure this.

Step Length vs. Stride Length

The step length is the distance from the heel print of one foot to the heel print of the other foot during a walking stride. This is the distance traveled forward by a single leg. An average that you will see listed in many places is 2.2 feet (0.67 meters) for women and 2.5 feet (0.762 meters) for men, but it depends very much on height.

Stride length can mean the same thing as step length, or it can mean the distance traveled by the heel of one foot to the next time that same foot strikes down. In other words, it is two steps since in that time the other foot has also touched down once.

If you set your pedometer for your step length and discover it seems to be halving your distance, read the instructions again. It may want the stride length, which is two steps. Also, in the reverse case, if you at first thought the pedometer needed the stride length but you seem to be getting double the distance, read again as it may have really wanted the step length.

How to Measure Stride Length

There are a few methods you can use to measure your stride length to determine your individual distance.

Wet Foot Walk Method

Rob Sweetgall of Creative Walking, Inc. touts this method of measuring step length to set your pedometer.

  1. Create a puddle of water on a stretch of sidewalk or street where you can be walking your natural speed before and after you reach it.
  2. Start walking at your natural pace and walk through the water. Keep walking naturally for about 10 more steps.
  3. Now measure the distance from the heel of your left footprint to the heel of your right footprint on several of the wet footprints and average them.
  4. If your pedometer is set in feet, divide the inches by 12 to get feet. Step length in inches divided by 12 inches equals your step length in feet.

Measured Distance Short Walk

You can use this method in a hallway, gym, or large room.

  1. Measure and mark a known distance, such as 20 feet or 50 feet.
  2. Get up to speed in your natural walk and count the number of steps it takes to cover that distance.
  3. Divide the number of feet by the number of steps. Feet divided by steps equals your step length in feet.

Measured Distance Long Walk

If you use your step count over a longer known walking distance, it should give a more accurate average stride length measurement than the short walk method. Here are two suggestions.

On a football field, which is 300 feet from goal line to goal line:

  1. Mentally count your steps.
  2. Divide 300 by the number of steps.

On a regulation track (say, at a school): This is tricky because some are 1/4 mile, which equals 440 yards or 1,320 feet. Others are 400 meters, which equals 1,308 feet. You may have to locate and ask the coach which is correct for the track.

  1. Walk in the inside lane only. Count your steps.
  2. Divide either 1,320 or 1,308 by the number of steps.

Online Mapping Apps

Use an online mapping app to draw and measure your walking route. Then check this against your pedometer reading. You could also use GPS-based walking apps on your mobile phone, but these are often off by 10% for distance compared with other forms of measurement.

Stride Length by Height

When you use your height to determine your stride length, you get a rough estimate that isn't personalized. But if you're wondering how long your stride length should be, or the normal step length for your height, there is a way to measure and estimate. It can be useful to check your results by the other methods. It is the method used in the automatic settings of many pedometers and activity trackers:

  • Females: Height in inches multiplied by 0.413 equals stride length
  • Males: Height in inches multiplied by 0.415 equals stride length

Height

Women's Stride (inches)

Men's Stride (inches)

5 ft. 0 in.

25

25

5 ft. 1 in.

25

25

5 ft. 2 in.

26

26

5 ft. 3 in.

26

26

5 ft. 5 in.

26

27

5 ft. 5 in.

27

27

5 ft. 6 in.

27

27

5 ft. 7 in.

28

28

5 ft. 8 in.

28

28

5 ft. 9 in.

28

29

5 ft. 10 in.

29

29

5 ft. 11 in.

29

29

6 ft. 0 in.

30

30

6 ft. 1 in.

30

30

6 ft. 2 in.

31

31

6 ft. 3 in.

31

31

6 ft. 4 in.

31

32

6 ft. 5 in.

32

32

Adjusting Your Device or App

Smartphones have built-in accelerometer chips, and their health apps record a step count. You can track your stride length in Apple Health and Google Fit. Additionally, if you change your height it will change your stride length, which is used in determining the distance you walk. Dedicated pedometer apps may allow you to set your stride length for better accuracy.

Help With Popular Fitness Monitors

Check for the online instruction manual for your device.


Fitbit

Fitbit allows you to change the step length (which it calls the stride length) using the Edit Profile function in the online dashboard, or in the app under Account, Advanced Settings.

If your Fitbit seems to be counting too many steps, use the app or dashboard to switch the setting to "dominant hand." That will decrease the motion sensitivity for arm motions. If it seems to count too few, change the setting to "non-dominant hand."

You can further adjust your stride length (which is actually your step length) via the Edit Profile function on the online Dashboard. In the app, it can be set in the Account, Advanced Settings, Stride Length menu.

You can set both walking and running stride lengths, as they often are different. If the distance estimate seems inaccurate, use this function to set it for better accuracy.

Apple Watch

Use your iPhone to see and edit your step length. In your Health app, head to Summary then edit your Favorites. Under Step Length, you'll be able to see your average stride range and you can Add Data to change it manually.

1 Source
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Barreira TV, Rowe DA, Kang M. Parameters of walking and jogging in healthy young adults. Int J Exerc Sci. 2010;3(1).

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.