Buying into the 10,000-steps-a-day craze
Someone once made an amazing fitness discovery — the secret to a long life, fewer pounds and inner peace is to walk 10,000 steps a day. I’m not sure whether it was Mehmet Oz or Mahatma Gandhi. Maybe it was Confucius who said, “A journey begins with a single step, but 10,000 are recommended.”
The 10,000-step program, which is not to be confused with the 12-Step Program, is just what we need in America, where Big Macs and Hot Pockets are the cuisine of choice and obesity has become an epidemic. Sometimes, the only exercise our young people get is twerking and texting.
Actually, the Japanese are credited with starting this craze, back in the 1960s when they sold pedometers called “manpo-kei,” or “10,000 step meter.”
Even 20 minutes of vigorous walking a day has benefits, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that concluded lack of exercise could be responsible for twice as many deaths as the obesity.
I’m always willing to try anything that can help me shed a few pounds, add a few years and blow off steam, so I started the 10,000-step program, which equals almost five miles a day. It’s a big commitment, when you consider the average American walks only 5,900 steps a day.
Studies show there are benefits to all this legwork. It prevents heart disease, reduces blood pressure, improves glucose levels, and burns about 500 calories, which add up to losing a pound a week.
My personal campaign began in earnest when my daughter gave me a fitness tracker called Up24, which records how many steps you walk, along with your sleep patterns and calories burned. It goes around your wrist, sort of like that locator device Lindsay Lohan was forced to wear, so they could monitor whether she was bar-hopping, which, as you know, is a popular exercise for celebrities.
Even though I hate technology, I put the wrist band on and instantly became obsessed with how many steps I walked. Experts suggest that you seize any opportunity to walk — while you’re watching television (I don’t own one), while you talk to telemarketers (I’m getting rid of my landline), and while you’re brushing your teeth — which I did until my wife started yelling because toothpaste was dribbling out of my mouth onto the carpet and leaving stains.
I quickly realized that to reach 10,000 steps, I had to spend most of my waking hours walking, which is complicated by the fact I commute five hours a day by car and by train.
This clearly meant I had to change the way I do business. Now when I get off the train at night, instead of rushing home, I walk around the station twice, down the handicapped ramp and up the handicapped ramp and through rows of cars — which probably makes the local police suspect that I’m trying to steal someone’s PT Cruiser. Plus, I’m getting home later than usual, which makes my wife suspicious. All this exercise creates a lot of suspicion.
I’ve also started to run up the escalators and I’ve even considered walking up the 26 floors to the office, but I’m afraid my knees will give out, and the EMTs will have to carry me from the building on a stretcher with an oxygen mask strapped to my face.
At work, I walk around the office, going from cubicle to cubicle, sharing gossip, grumbling and having meaningful conversations like:
“Hey, Frank, how’s the drinking problem?”
“Mary, are you still living with that deadbeat boyfriend?”
“Craig, that’s a monster zit on your nose. You should pop it.”
It’s amazing how much goodwill you can spread in the workplace if you’re willing to get off your duff and walk around — at least until the boss asks, “Why isn’t this knucklehead ever at his desk?” Then some wise guy will chime in, “He has a problem with incontinence.”
The next thing you know, HR will be confiscating my fitness tracker and buying me a box of Depends.
Joe Pisani may be reached at email@example.com.