‘10,000 Steps in 80 days’

OK. It’s easy. It’s fun. It’s free! It doesn’t need batteries. It strengthens your bones and joints and increases your metabolism. It’s good for your heart … and your spirits. You probably learned to do it when you were just one. What is it? It’s walking!

There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that walking is an ideal form of exercise, so the big question is, “Why aren’t more of us doing it?”

Let’s face it, being too busy is probably the No. 1 reason. I’ll share with you the words my mother-in-law once said to me. “You’re too busy now, but once you have the heart attack, you’ll find the time.” That comment has stuck with me for 15 years.

The second biggest reason is, it’s not convenient. Sure all you have to do is put on your shoes and walk out the front door, but … what if it’s raining? Snowing? Hot and humid? How many perfect sunny with a touch of a breeze days are there, anyway? What if there’s hills? No sidewalks? Dogs?

To be honest, they’re all viable frustrations and obstacles to walking. So for those of you who really do want some walking benefits but aren’t ready to commit to meeting a walking partner every morning at 6, here’s a great compromise. I call it 10,000 Steps in 80 Days. It’s a suggested walking program that can turn a sedentary person (one walking only about 2,000 steps per day) into an active person in just 80 days.

Most of you are well aware that 10,000 is the recommended number of steps we should try to get in each day. For the average person whose stride length is approximately 2.5 feet, that would be a distance of just about five miles a day — a great goal to shoot for — and it’s simple.

The main commitment you will have to make is to purchase a pedometer. Experts agree that most people UNDERestimate how much they eat, and OVERestimate how much they move. Pedometers keep us honest.

Here’s a few ways to get in more steps each day:

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

• Park farther away from the store.

• Walk the dog instead of just putting him out.

• Don’t sit, walk up and down the field at the kids’ sports events.

• Pace while talking on the phone.

• Get up to turn the TV channels.

Wearing a pedometer will be a constant reminder to you of the goals you’re shooting for. Journal your steps at the end of each day and watch it grow. For someone starting out at a sedentary 2,000 steps a day, a 200-step-per-day increase every two days will get them to 10,000 in about 80 days! It’s not around the world, but it is a few steps closer to better health.

Kim Bensen, author of Finally Thin, was a lifetime yo-yo dieter who lost 200+ pounds and has kept it off for more than 10 years. She owns the Kim Bensen Weight Loss Center and just opened Kim’s Light Café and Smoothie Bar at 405 Bridgeport Avenue in Shelton. For more information, tips and recipes, go to kimbensen.com.