How to Measure Walking Distance

Nadia Santiago
woman tracking walking steps with app

Knowing how to measure walking distance will help you develop an exercise program that's effective for losing weight and increasing your aerobic fitness. Walking is a good form of exercise for many people. It's especially beneficial to people who can't or don't want to run. Walking is gentler on the joints and can be enjoyed by anyone at any age. To incorporate walking into a weight loss program, it's helpful to know how far you need to walk for maximum results.

How to Measure Walking Distance Basics

There are several ways to measure how far you've walked. You may find you prefer one method over others, or you can alternate and use the method works best for where you're walking.

Phone Apps

The simplest, most current way to track how far you've walked is by using a walking app. Not only do they measure the distance, but many also include your speed, track your heart rate, and map your route. Plus, they save your results. If it's your first time using a walking app, there are plenty of free options for both Android and IOS:

  • MapMyWalk is great for the casual walker. Once you hit "Start," it begins measuring your time and your distance, which you can view on the app's main screen. The main screen is also a map, so you can choose your route as you go and never worry about getting lost!
  • Pedometer (Android and iPhone) is perfect for those who love counting steps. It displays your total steps, speed, calories burned, distance and time, and whether you have your phone in hand or in your pocket.
  • Walkmeter claims to be "the most advanced application for walkers and hikers ever designed for a mobile device." In addition to keeping track of your distance and heart rate, it includes training plans to help you optimize your workouts.

Simply download one and follow the instructions. The benefit of using an app is that it saves the information, so you can refer back to it later.

Classic Pedometers

The classic pedometer was designed to measure your walking distance based on how many steps you take. Some pedometers only measure the number of footsteps, but others measure miles or both miles and steps. Unfortunately, measuring miles can be tricky because it is based on the number of steps you take. A person with short legs may cover the same distance as a person with long legs but take more total steps, so the accuracy of the pedometer may be off. In that case, it can be helpful to figure out your total number of steps per mile.

  1. Begin on a quarter-mile track.
  2. Walk on the inside lane and count the number of steps it takes to get around once.
  3. Multiply this number by four to figure out your number of steps per mile.

Record this number, so you have it handy next time you use your pedometer. At the end of the walk, you can calculate your mileage. Simply divide the number of total steps you took on your walk by your number of steps per mile. For example, if it took you 1,000 steps to get around the quarter mile track, your calculations would look like this:

  • 1,000 steps x 4 = 4,000 steps per mile

Say, at the end of today's walk your pedometer totaled 10,500 steps.

  • 10,500 total steps ÷ 4,000 steps per mile = 2.63 miles

The calculation is very straightforward, as long as you know your steps per mile. An alternative is to use an online steps-to-miles converter, such as ConvertUnits.com or Kyle's Converter.

Measuring by Distance

Another simple way to track how far you've walked is to map it out ahead of time. There are three ways to do this.

Indoor and Outdoor Tracks

As with the method to measure strides, quarter-mile tracks are useful to gauge your walking distance. If you want to walk two miles, simply walk the inside lane a total of eight times. It's a good habit to reverse the direction you walk on a track from time to time because it keeps your body working symmetrically. It also gives you a change of scenery, making things more interesting than viewing it the exact same way each and every time.

Drive the Route

Tracking the mileage on your car while driving is an easy way to see how far you'll be going on your walk. This is useful for people who walk in neighborhood settings but don't know how far they've traveled just by walking down a long street. Use your car's odometer to check the distance, so the next time you walk from one neighborhood to the next, you'll know how far you've traveled.

Mapping Sites

Mapping sites make planning your walk almost effortless. Onthegomap.com, powered by Google Maps, is a great option. You only need to spend about five to ten minutes charting your course before you head out the door.

  1. Visit the website.
  2. Enter your current location and your destination.
  3. Add pins, or stops, by clicking on points along your path.

Your total distance will appear at the bottom right corner of the screen. Another option is to go directly to Google Maps.

  1. Enter your current location and your destination and click "Directions."
  2. Under where the directions button was, you will see text that says "Options." Click on that.
  3. Among the options, click the box beside "Avoid highways." This will give you several options for local paths to walk.

The total mileage appears to the right of each option. This can be a great way to discover new walking routes.

Treadmills

Woman walking on treadmill at home

Many treadmills take the guesswork out of measuring your walking distance. Just input your information and start walking. It's as simple as that. The machine will tell you your calories burned, distance traveled, and time spent exercising. While some people find treadmills boring, you can use them anytime as part of a cardio routine without worrying about the weather outside.

The Importance of Measurements

Why is it important to know how to measure walking distance? If you're trying to lose weight, maintaining an effective calorie-burning routine is one way to achieve your goals. While most health care experts advise people to engage in an aerobic activity a few times a week for at least 30 minutes, you can watch the clock or you can use your pedometer to make sure you're getting the right amount of exercise. Using a calorie estimating calculator will help you determine how many calories you burn during certain activities. If you prefer to keep track of how far you've walked instead of how long you've walked, you can still use such a calculator to figure out how many calories you burn over certain distances.

Walking for Fitness

Keeping track of how far you walk is a smart way to improve your fitness level. If you start at a beginner's pace, you may be surprised to see how far you can walk once you get into a regular walking program. For people who have led sedentary lives and are just starting to embrace a healthy lifestyle, improvement can be a big motivator. Because walking is as simple as placing one foot in front of the other, it's a good form of low impact exercise for everyone. Knowing how to measure how far you walk helps keep you on the right track.

How to Measure Walking Distance