To get accurate results from a pedometer that measures distance traveled, you must first determine your stride length. You do not want to look down at your pedometer to see a distance of one mile and really have only walked 3/4 mile. There is little science behind measuring your stride length, but it's best to do this after you are warmed up because your stride is longer then.
The Wet Foot Method
Pour water on a section of concrete sidewalk, driveway or parking lot. Walk on the dry section of concrete. Take 10 to 20 steps using the stride you use when you are walking for exercise.
Walk through the water. Make sure the bottoms of both shoes get wet, and then walk across the dry portion of the concrete. Maintain your normal walking stride.
Measure the distance between the first set of heel or toe prints of either the left or right foot with a tape measure. This means you would measure between two prints made by either your left or right foot. If you measured the distance from the heel of your left foot to the heel of your right foot, you would only get one-half of your stride length.
Stick a 12-inch piece of masking tape to a firm, dry surface. Extend and lock 10 feet of a tape measure blade. Align the 120-inch mark of the blade with the inside top end of the masking tape. Walk to the beginning of the tape measure’s blade. Place a second piece of tape on the ground at the beginning end of the tape measure.
Place your heels on the bottom of the masking tape you placed at the beginning end of your tape measure blade. Walk across the ten-foot span while counting the number of steps it takes you to hit the second piece of tape with your heels. Remember the number of steps. Repeat the walk at least two more times and take an average of the three results. This gives you a more accurate step count.
Divide the distance—120-inches—by the average number of steps it took you to span the distance between the masking tape. For example, if it took four steps to cover 10 feet, you have a stride of 30 inches.
- You can do a quick stride length estimation by multiplying your height by .413 if you are a woman or .415 if you are a man.
Lynda Schwartz is a fitness professional who began writing in 2004. She has contributed to "Women's Day" and "Good Housekeeping" magazines, as well as covered fitness and well-being for online publications. Schwartz holds a bachelor's degree in exercise science and health promotion.