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Rx: 10,000 Steps; Sig: Take Each Day

two army men running on fresh spring day
The first step in changing anything is measuring it. If you are like most Americans, you aren’t getting enough exercise, so you need to start tracking your steps each day. This is more fun than it may sound at first. The new activity devices are clever, inconspicuous little digital wonders that will track the number of steps you take, floors of stairs you climb up, calories you burn, miles you walk or run, and even the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep, total sleep time and number of times you wake up. All this for about $100!

My favorite such device is the Fitbit One, which you can find at It is simply astounding how wearing this little digital genius can dramatically change a person’s attitude and behavior.

When I wear this I feel like I am “getting credit” for climbing the stairs; or walking for 15 minutes over my lunch break; or making a point to get to bed on time so I can get a rejuvenating eight hours of sleep. And you can compare your results to friends and family either in person, or using social media like Facebook or Twitter. The results stream automatically to your cell phone too.

Some of the healthiest populations on Earth average about 10,000 steps per day; we Americans take about half that - 5,200 per day. Your goal is 10,000 steps - so get a Fitbit or some another activity tracker. My good friend and colleague, Dr. Joe Goeke, wears a Jawbone - a bracelet that measures his daily activity.

Even small tweaks to your lifestyle can add up to large differences. I have developed the habit of standing up whenever my cell phone rings - why do you think it’s called a MOBILE phone?! If the call is going to take a few minutes, I will often step outside to get some fresh air and talk while I stroll around in the gorgeous gardens on the campus at Saint Luke’s Hospital on the Plaza.

I also stand up more often and go over to chat in person when I need to communicate with a colleague rather than firing off yet another e-mail. It is also very important to get in the habit of taking the stairs every chance you get - climbing up flights of stairs is the single most strenuous activity most adults do during their everyday lives.

In Good Health,

James O'Keefe, MD

Picture Credit: Creative Commons Pixabay