How to Measure Walking Distance

Updated July 28, 2022
woman tracking walking steps with app

Knowing how to measure the distance you have walked can help you develop an exercise program that's effective for overall wellness, as well as any specific goals you may have such as losing weight or increasing your aerobic fitness or flexibility. Walking is a good form of exercise that's gentler on the joints than running. It's even believed to help with anxiety.

When you incorporate walking workouts into your lifestyle, it's helpful to know how to measure walking distance. This can help you set goals for yourself, know what you've accomplished, keep up with your progress, and figure out how many calories you have burned. You can use a tech gadget or app to measure your walking distance or calculate it manually.

3 Ways Measure Walking Distance

There are several ways to measure how far you've walked. You may find you prefer one method over others, or you may want to vary the methods you use based on where you're walking.

Fitness Tracker

If you want to keep up with all of the steps you walk rather than just tracking your walking distance at certain times, consider wearing a fitness tracker or a smartwatch. Wearable devices like Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin, and Samsung Galaxy Watch will calculate your walking distance for you, step by step and mile by mile, throughout each day. They'll also track other types of activities and, with some models, health indicators like heart rate and sleep. Wearable fitness trackers are believed to positively impact personal wellness and may help motivate people to become more active.

Phone App

Using a walking app on your smartphone is also a simple tech-based way to measure how far you have walked. 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. There are plenty of free walking app options for both Android and IOS, including:

  • MapMyWalk is a great tool for casual walkers, though it does require a paid subscription (around $6 monthly or $30 per year). 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! You can even sync it to some fitness trackers.
  • Pedometer from ITO Technologies is perfect for those who love counting steps. This app is free. It displays your total steps, speed, calories burned, distance, and time. It'll count your steps whether you are carrying your phone or if it is in your pocket or a bag that you are carrying.
  • 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. The app is free to download, but some features require in-app purchases.

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.

Man holding smartphone, using fitness app

Classic Pedometer

Classic pedometers are not high-tech. They are 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 with a classic pedometer 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 a pedometer that provides results in miles may be off.

If you're using this type of device, it's ideal to figure out your own total number of steps per mile, then use that information paired with the number of steps the pedometer records to calculate the distance you walked based. Follow these steps to measure your steps:

  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.
  4. Record this number, so you have it handy next time you use your pedometer.

Once you complete your walk, you can use your number of steps per mile to calculate your distance. Simply divide the number of total steps you took on your walk (according to your pedometer) by your number of steps per mile (that you previously calculated).

  • For example, if it took you 1,000 steps to get around the quarter-mile track one time, your calculation would look like this: 1,000 steps x 4 = 4,000 steps per mile
  • If the pedometer shows 10,500 steps at the end of the wall, then you would calculate your distance walked as follows: 10,500 total steps ÷ 4,000 steps per mile = 2.63 miles

Alternately, you can use an online steps-to-miles converter, such as ConvertUnits.com or Kyle's Converter.

How to Know How Far You Walked

You don't necessarily have to use a gadget to know how far you walked. There are other options, including choosing a place to walk that is pre-measured or mapping out your route ahead of time.

Walk on a Measured Track

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.

Use a Mapping Site

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, which are stops, by clicking on points along your path.
  4. Your total distance will appear at the bottom right corner of the screen.

Alternately, you could go directly to Google Maps.

  1. Click the blue arrow, then enter your current location and your destination so the site will pull up directions.
  2. When the directions come up, you will see text that says "Options." Click on that.
  3. Among the options, click the box beside "Highways" in the "Avoid" column. 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 and their distance.

Walk on a Treadmill

Walking on a treadmill can 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.

Exercise treadmill cardio running workout at fitness gym

Benefits of Measuring Walking Distance

Why is it important to know how to measure walking distance? Regardless of why you are walking, knowing the distance you walk is good information to have. Knowing both the distance you walked and how much time you spent walking can help you determine your physical activity intensity, as well as provide you with data you can keep up with to determine your progress. If you're trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, knowing how far you walk can help you know how many calories you are burning.

Keeping track of how far you walk is also a smart way to stay tuned in to your physical activity level, which can play an important role in wellness and fitness. You may be pleasantly surprised to see how much you improve and how far you can walk once you get into a regular walking program. Seeing improvement gives you something to celebrate, and it can help motivate you to make other positive lifestyle changes. If walking is part of your regular routine, knowing how to measure how far you walk can help keep you on track to achieving your wellness goals.

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How to Measure Walking Distance