10,000-step journey begins with first stride.


Byline: George Barnes


I've been hearing a lot about the 10,000 steps you should take to achieve better health.

Everyone is talking about it, or at least it seems like it comes up all the time lately. The conversation goes something like this ...

"So how are you doing?"

"I'm steppin' baby! Are you steppin'?"

"I'm just shopping for groceries."

"Well step it up man!"

After I threw a glass of water at him to cool him down, I investigated the phenomenon.

Apparently research has been done showing that 10,000 steps would be a good number to get people a bit more fit. I had my doubts because the number seemed, to put it politely, howling-at-the-moon crazy.

Ten thousand steps? This is America, the land of the free, home of the couch and remote. Everyone here owns a car and would need serious retraining before they could understand what "stepping" is all about.

I heard the concept may have originated in Japan and I'm not surprised. They are motivated people, at least the Japanese I know. They probably actually exercise, rather than going to some Web page for virtual exercise. It's almost insulting to suggest that we Americans need to get fit. We are fitness crazy, always making important and properly fit choices like drinking a jumbo size diet soda with our fries. Walking 10,000 steps? Silly rabbit.

But I am a person who believes everything should be given at least one chance. If they want me to walk 10,000 steps a day, I thought, I'll give it a try and (probably) die trying.

Ten thousand steps? I'm not afraid of exercise. I have been working at keeping fit in recent years, although I am better at talking the talk than walking the walk. My biggest fear in the 10,000-step plan was the math. How would I know if I had walked 10,000 steps? And how would I stay awake. Can you imagine how boring that can be, walking along, counting, 789, 790,791, 792 ... 8,324, 8,325, 8,326, 8,3 - uh, um, 8,324, 790, uh, um.

But I vowed to do it and do it on a normal working day, not a day set aside for walking.

I also realized in thinking about it, that I could find plenty of ways to add steps to my day. I knew it would require a bit of sacrifice, but it is possible. It might also require a few esthetic changes. Walking around your home town in a hunting shirt and jeans could get you questioned as a "suspicious character" even though it is the same shirt and jeans you wore to your daughter's wedding and to work every day. I suggest buying a few cool...

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