Have you ever tried to walk or run with someone who has much shorter or longer legs than you do?
Perhaps you have a running buddy gifted with lanky legs who seemingly takes one long, loping stride for every two or three short, choppy strides you have to take.
Or, maybe you are a tall person, and you find yourself constantly having to hold yourself back and walk slower when in the company of your shorter friends, as your long steps cover ground much more efficiently.
Either way, you might be wondering, “What is the average stride length?”
In this article, we will try to break down average stride length data and discuss factors that affect the length of a stride and step length.
We will cover:
- What Is a Stride? Step vs. Stride
- Factors That Affect Stride Length
- What Is the Average Stride Length?
- Average Stride Length By Height
Let’s jump in!
What Is a Stride? Step Length vs. Stride Length
People often use the terms step and stride interchangeably, but they actually refer to two different things.
Walking and running each has a unique, characteristic gait cycle, which refers to the repetitive pattern of movement that your legs and feet travel through as you move forward.
A stride is one complete revolution of the gait cycle, beginning at initial ground contact or heel strike and ending when that same foot comes to that same position again to make ground contact again.
For example, when the right foot first contacts the ground when you walk or run, one stride involves stepping through the right foot, then stepping down with the left while the right foot is up in the air during the swing phase, and then the right foot coming back down to make ground contact again.
A stride can also be taken on the left side from ground contact to when the left foot makes ground contact again.
A step is half of one stride, so there are two steps for every stride.
One step would be from the time that the right foot first makes ground contact at heel strike to when the left foot makes ground contact at heel strike.
Then another step would be taken from this point in the gait cycle—left foot heel strike—to when the right foot again makes ground contact.
Factors That Affect Stride Length
The average length of a stride for an individual can be influenced by several factors, including the following:
#1: Your Height
If you’ve ever observed a small child walking or running, you have an appreciation for how many steps their tiny legs have to take to get them from point A to point B.
Height, or leg length, is one of the primary factors that affect your step length average or your typical stride length.
Taller individuals have longer legs with a greater inseam, so the lever length of their leg between each joint (hip to knee to ankle) is longer.
This means that when a taller person performs the same joint movement patterns for walking or running as a shorter person, they cover more distance.
Therefore, the average stride length and step length increases with height.
#2: Your Age
As we age, average stride length tends to decrease.
Older adults tend to have poorer balance, lower muscle mass and decreased cardiovascular fitness, all of which can reduce average stride length.
When balance is poor, the brain compensates by minimizing perturbations of the center of mass.
By shortening step length and stride length, the foot is never too far in front of or behind the center of mass.
This helps reduce the need to balance the body.
Similarly, with less muscle strength and fitness, people walk or run at a slower pace and take shorter strides, as doing so decreases the workload on the legs and cardiovascular system.
The slower you walk or run, the shorter your steps and strides can be.
Moreover, taking shorter steps requires less muscular strength and metabolic demand, so it’s an often unconscious strategy to conserve energy.
#3: Your Sex
Women tend to have a shorter average step length than men, though this is largely due to differences in average height, with a minor involvement in differences in muscle mass.
#4: Variable Factors That Affect Average Stride Length
Height and age are fairly static factors that affect average stride length in that they don’t really change from day to day.
Therefore, rather than these factors affecting how your own personal average stride length or step length average changes from day to day, they are factors that differentiate the average stride length between two different people.
There are also factors that affect an individual’s typical stride length running or walking from day to day. These can be seen as variable factors because they change more readily. Variable factors that affect average stride length include the terrain, your pace, and the activity you’re doing.
Average stride length running or walking is somewhat dependent on the terrain you’re covering.
For example, your average running stride length while trail running will likely be somewhat shorter than your average stride length running on a treadmill, track, or flat road.
You have to be mindful of your footing and avoid rocks, roots, and obstacles on a trail.
Additionally, the body often unconsciously shortens your stride when traversing uneven terrain to preserve balance and reduce the risk of falling.
Inclines and declines can also affect average running stride length. Stride length tends to decrease when ascending slopes and increase when running downhill.
Average walking stride length can also be impacted by terrain and footing.
Average stride length running and average stride length walking for any given person are quite different.
Running and walking each has a distinct gait cycle.
Running includes a “float” phase or “flight” phase where both feet are off the ground. Walking does not include this phase since one foot is always on the ground.
As a result, your average running stride length is almost always longer than your average walking stride length.
The faster you walk or run, the longer your stride length will get up to a certain point, and then the remainder of the increases in speed are accomplished by increasing step rate or stride rate (also called cadence).
Therefore, your average length of stride for brisk walking will be longer than your average step length during leisurely walking, and your average running stride length while jogging will be shorter than your average stride length running at a fast pace.
Note that studies suggest that increasing stride length is associated with increasing the risk of injuries, whereas increasing cadence is not.
What Is the Average Stride Length?
Given the numerous factors that can affect stride length and step length, it’s understandable why there can be quite a range in typical stride lengths in running and walking.
With that said, various research studies and fitness organizations have attempted to quantify the average stride length for adults.
Many fitness pedometers and watches use a default average step length of 2.2 feet (0.67 meters) for women and 2.5 feet (0.762 meters) for men, which can be converted to 4.4 feet and 5 feet for the average stride length for women and men, respectively.
According to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, the average step length for women is approximately 26 inches, and the average stride length is 52 inches, whereas the average step length for men is approximately 31 inches, and the average stride length is 62 inches.
This research also reports that the average person takes 2000 steps per mile. Because a mile is 5,280 feet, this means that each step is 2.6 feet or 31 inches (78.75 cm), and the average stride length is 62 inches.
These values overlap with the average step lengths for men.
Average Stride Length By Height
Because stride length is largely dependent on height, fitness monitors and pedometers often employ formulas to calculate your average step length based on your height.
These formulas to calculate average step length by height are as follows:
- Females: Height in inches multiplied by 0.413 equals step length
- Males: Height in inches multiplied by 0.415 equals step length
Because there are two steps per stride, the average stride length would double these results.
For example, let’s say a woman is 5 feet 4 inches: 64 x 0.413 = 26.432 inches per step or 52.864 inches per stride.
Using these formulas, here is a chart of average step length and stride length by height:
|Women’s Step Length (inches)
|Women’s Stride Length (inches)
|Men’s Step Length (inches)
|Men’s Stride Length (inches)
|5 ft. 0 in.
|5 ft. 1 in.
|5 ft. 2 in.
|5 ft. 3 in.
|5 ft. 5 in.
|5 ft. 5 in.
|5 ft. 6 in.
|5 ft. 7 in.
|5 ft. 8 in.
|5 ft. 9 in.
|5 ft. 10 in.
|5 ft. 11 in.
|6 ft. 0 in.
|6 ft. 1 in.
|6 ft. 2 in.
|6 ft. 3 in.
|6 ft. 4 in.
|6 ft. 5 in.
What is your average stride length? You can measure it by wetting your feet and measuring the distance between your heel prints or by counting how many strides you take over a certain distance and dividing that number by the distance traveled.
As we mentioned, if you are a runner and want to decrease your risk of injury, increasing your cadence is a great way to do so. Check out our tips on how to increase cadence here.