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The Magic Amount of Exercise You Need to Transform Your Health (and Body)

Walking_park_400No matter what your fitness level, the simple answer is: Walk 10,000 steps a day. You’ll feel better, feel stronger, be more motivated, lose a few pounds, decrease your blood pressure, and essentially create the foundation to make any change you want in your life. From This Is Your Do-Over.

If you look at the landscape of today’s exercise culture, you’ll notice two extremes. On one side are the folks who won’t, don’t, or can’t do any physical activity beyond the simple tasks of living. We all know that’s a problem, because we’ve been barraged with the headlines about how lack of exercise is linked to everything from obesity and heart disease to diabetes and memory problems.

Simply, if you don’t move around, you’re not going to be around.

The other extreme is one that’s really taken off over the last few years: the extreme exercisers. Those are the ones who do mud races, and adventures, and get thrills through activities that many folks would think are way too advanced for the general population. There’s nothing wrong with that side of the spectrum for some people besides an elevated risk of injury, especially overuse injuries; too much exercise can actually overwhelm the system that helps heal you. While those people are indeed active and engaging in healthy behaviors, I do fear one thing: that the extreme side sends a message to the slothy side that exercise has to be that way to get your Do-Over. As in: if you can’t make it across butter-greased monkey bars with zombies chasing after you, then heck, just sit back and have another couple of doughnuts.

The truth is that for optimum health—for weight control, for longevity, for keeping up your sex drive, for maintaining brain health, for feeling strong and happy—the exercise formula rests right in the middle with a big old dose of moderation. Or, rather: “I don’t need extremes for maximum health—heck, in many cases, doing less gives me maximum benefits.”

So here’s your prescription for your Do-Over: a little regular physical activity, the key words being little and regular.

I get it: walking throughout the day isn’t the sexy solution to your health problems, because, well, sometimes it feels more boring than reading an encyclopedia of instruction manuals (unless you are walking with your BFF or partner).

But just because an answer isn’t splashy doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work: in this case, the simple answer is the one that does.

Simply, walk ten thousand steps a day. As we say, “10K a day, no excuses.”

If you do, your destination will be the one that this book is all about: creating the life you want with the health you have to have, or getting that life-changing Do-Over. Science has found that this formula for walking not only helps you burn calories to help you lose weight, but also changes your body’s chemistry to reverse some of the damage you may have done to it throughout your life.

What I like best about this prescription is that when you think of the Do-Over, you may assume that an overhaul has to be this monumental change in which you tornado through a phone booth to change from Clark Kent to Superman. But that’s not what a Do-Over is about. You can change the functioning of your genes (remember the discussion of epigenetics in mini medical school) and erase all the years of damage that may have been done through inactivity, bad foods, high stress, and other life crushers with something as simple as taking a walk and making sure you stay active throughout the day.


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