How to Measure One's Step or Stride

By Kathryn Vera

Your stride is traditionally described as the distance covered in one step, from heel to heel or toe to toe. While there are a number of benefits associated with knowing your stride length, it is especially useful when it comes to calculating total daily walking distance with the use of a pedometer.

Walk This Way

To get the most accurate measurement of your step length, performing a basic stride test is a must. To perform this test, establish a starting line, using a piece of masking tape, a pen, or another object that easily stands out from its surroundings. Place on the ground, and stand with both of your heels touching this object. Take 10 steps that are similar in length to your normal walking stride -- and on the last of these bring your feet together and mark your ending point with another piece of masking tape, pen or similar tool. Measure the distance between the two markers in centimeters using a tape measure, and divide by 10 to determine average stride length in centimeters. Performing this test two to three times and averaging the numbers may give you the most accurate results when it comes to determining stride length.

Height Helps

Individuals who cannot -- or choose not -- to perform a stride test can still estimate their step length by performing some basic calculations based on height. In this method, start by converting your height to centimeters by multiplying your height in inches by 2.54. A woman who is 5'5", for example -- or 65 inches tall -- would have a height of 165 centimeters. Men and women should multiply this number by 0.415 and 0.413, respectively, to determine average stride length in centimeters. This method is based on the principle of proportionality, which suggests that your leg length is in proportion to your total body height.

It is important to note that individuals who have longer or shorter than average legs for their height may notice discrepancies when calculating stride length using this method. Using the technique outlined under "Walk This Way," then, is more accurate and preferrable for those with longer or shorter than average legs.

Average Joe

For a quick and easy estimate of your stride length, consider using averages based on your gender. Women, for example, have an average stride length of 70 centimeters, while their male counterparts have an average stride length of 78 centimeters. As with calculations based on height, this method is only an estimate -- however, it can be useful for those who do not have the equipment needed to perform other tests or are looking for a fast measurement of their stride length.

Using Stride Length

A pedometer is a tool that helps you determine total daily walking distance, based on the number of steps that you take and your estimated stride length. When entering your stride length into the pedometer, you may need to convert from distance in centimeters to meters, by dividing by 100. A stride length of 65 centimeters, for example, would correspond to .65 meters. Your pedometer will generally tell you distance walked in total feet, which you can then convert into miles. According to Oregon State University, taking 2000 steps correlates to walking approximately one mile.

References

About the Author

Kathryn Vera holds a master's degree in exercise physiology, as well as licensure as a Registered Dietitian. Currently, she works as a Clinical Exercise Physiologist in Cardiac Rehabilitation, where she provides care to patients living with chronic heart disease.

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