The average person's stride is 2.5 feet long and the average person walks 1 mile in 2,000 steps, according to The Walking Site. This means that 500 steps is roughly equal to one-quarter mile. The number of calories that you burn in that distance depends on several factors including your size and how much you weigh as well as how fast you walk, and whether or not you incorporate hills into your routine.
Body weight has the biggest influence on how many calories you burn. The more you weigh, the harder your muscles have to work and the more energy you need to consume to perform the same amount of activity. A 150-pound person may burn 20 calories walking 500 steps, while a 200-pound person may burn 26 calories.
Calorie expenditure is based on the duration and intensity of the activity. A 150-pound person walking at a speed of 2 mph will walk 500 steps in roughly eight minutes and burn 23 calories. That same person, walking at a rate of 3.5 mph, would walk 500 steps in roughly four minutes and burn 27 calories.
The intensity of your exercise is determined by factors such as inclines, differences in terrain and whether or not you are carrying a load. Walking 500 steps at 2 mph on a flat surface burns 23 calories, but walking up a flight of stairs burns 72 calories in the same amount of time, while walking on grass burns 45 calories.
Because so many variable determine how long you need to walk to reach 500 steps, and how many calories you burn, your best option is to wear a device that calculates your calorie expenditure for you. A heart rate monitor with a calorimeter and pedometer function will track both the number of steps you walk and how many calories you burn. A pedometer with a calorimeter will estimate the number of calories you burn based on your body weight.