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The 3,867 Step Challenge
Scientists have given us a new number of daily minimum number of steps to shoot for. Plus, how to biohack your house for only $135,000 and how to work out like a kid.
Welcome to the latest edition of PF Quick Hits, a (mostly) lighthearted look at recent fitness news and trends. Quick Hits is published…well, when we feel like it.
You may not be able to hit 10,000 steps a day, but surely you can hit 3,867?
That’s the number of steps per day you need to reduce the risk of dying from any cause, according to a massive new study from the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology. The research examined data from 17 different studies on step counts. As a cycling-first cardio guy who averages about 7,400 steps a day, I welcome this new study, as it quantifies the benefits of lower daily step counts.
The study’s main finding? If you’re not walking, you should start walking. While 3,867 steps a day might be the lower limit for finding health benefits from walking, the researchers didn’t actually find an upper limit (though they only have data for up to 20,000 steps a day). Professor Maciej Banach, Professor of Cardiology at the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, summed it up:
“Our study confirms that the more you walk, the better,” says Prof. Banach. “We found that this applied to both men and women, irrespective of age, and irrespective of whether you live in a temperate, sub-tropical or sub-polar region of the world, or a region with a mixture of climates. In addition, our analysis indicates that as little as 4,000 steps a day are needed to significantly reduce deaths from any cause, and even fewer to reduce deaths from cardiovascular disease.”
On a previous episode of our podcast,and I examined the “10,000 steps a day” concept, and found it was created as part of a marketing ploy by a Japanese pedometer company in the 1960s. This study reinforces what we found on that podcast—you should try to get as many steps as is realistically possible for you.
Maybe that’s 3,867. Maybe that’s 10,000. Or maybe you don’t count steps at all, and just keep walking.
Biohacking your home for the low, low cost of $135,000
I’ve always enjoyed reading the “Mansion” section of my paper version Wall Street Journal every Friday, mostly for satirical purposes. “Mansion” includes coverage on big real estate transactions (often by celebrities or business types) and features on the homes of the wealthy.
When I belatedly picked up the section in my newspaper this weekend, I wasn’t expecting it to intersect with my love of fitness and wellness, but here we are. As soon as I saw the headline “The Biohacking Devotees Spending Hundreds of Thousands—Even Millions—to Enhance Their Homes,” I knew I’d want to write about it (snarkily).
First, let’s start with the basics. What exactly is “biohacking?” The WSJ article described it succinctly as, “a wellness lifestyle aimed at optimizing physical and mental performance.” Medical News Today describes it as “do-it-yourself” biology, which sounds totally legit. For the inside scoop, I decided to check in with lifestyle guru Tony Robbins, who has a description of the concept in a blog post (penned by “Team Tony”) on his website:
Biohacking your body means changing your chemistry and your physiology through science and self-experimentation to increase energy and vitality. It’s a broad definition, but that’s also because the concept is constantly evolving.
Team Tony’s blog post even mentions concepts like “implant technology,” and “genetic engineering,” described as “highly controversial and unregulated, for now existing only on the fringes of the biohacking world” and the type of biohacking that “makes the news.”
In the case of the “Mansion” piece, no one seems to be modifying their own DNA, but they do seem to be spending a lot of money. Take the first couple described in the article, who provided insight on their biohacking routine and how they have outfitted their home in support:
He takes 150 custom vitamins and supplements per day; she takes 23. They eat a diet specifically tailored to their genes. They work out with a trainer almost daily. They take posture-management classes. They practice Transcendental Meditation. They say affirmations.
But their biohacking isn’t limited to their bodies. They’ve also biohacked their house… “Biohacking is part of our life,” says Kellie Rastegar, 37. “You’d have to go out of your way to not biohack in our home.”
You really would have to go out of your way. For example, if you were trying to avoid biohacking in the this home, you’d have to bring your own bottled water. If you drink water out of the tap, you’re getting hydrogen-infused water, which is apparently “infinitely more powerful than normal water.”
You’d also have to avoid working out in their gym, or else, you’re getting extra oxygen pumped into your body from some sort of oxygen-pumping machine. You’d even have to avoid accidentally falling into the $65,000 “light-therapy bed” or mistakenly hooking yourself up to the “$16,990 BioCharger machine that uses light, frequencies and harmonics, voltage and pulsed electromagnetic field technology to, its makers claim, promote cellular rejuvenation, enhance cellular health and revitalize the body.”
Grand total for biohacking this home? $135,000. Another couple featured in the article spent $250,000 on biohacking their home with similar equipment (closer to $1 million, apparently, if you count their indoor basketball court as part of the biohacking bill).
While these couples may be going about their biohacking in opulent fashion, the article points out there are merits to the basic concepts of biohacking: the quality of the air, water and light in your home are important for your health. The author quotes the CEO of a company that’s worked with the Mayo and Cleveland Clinics to establish international building standards for wellness, and he believes you can biohack your home on a budget:
The company’s founder and CEO Paul Scialla says sufficiently improving indoor air, water and lighting can be done for 1% of construction costs or less. “It doesn’t have to break the bank,” he says.
With the median sales price of homes in the United States hovering at about $416,000, that means you’d only have to spend about $4,000 to make those types of improvements, a far cry from the money being spent by the wealthy couples chronicled in the Wall Street Journal.
Rediscovering the fun in exercise by thinking like a kid
I read a enjoyable piece from the New York Times this week that talked about incorporating the concept of play into your workouts. The article highlighted a workout program called the “Primal Play Method” created by personal trainer Darryl Edwards:
Mr. Edwards began incorporating play into his workouts and his clients’: climbing trees, balancing on railings and crawling on all fours instead of going to the gym. Eventually he developed a workout aimed at building strength and endurance through childlike play. His clients give piggyback rides and play tag instead of lifting weights.
Not only do clients get a solid workout, he said, it changes how they see movement. One mother who struggled to find time to exercise started working out with her children on their way to school, jumping over sidewalk cracks and playing hopscotch, and now arrives to work invigorated.
The premise of this workout method centers on the idea that a lot of people are bored with their workouts, so harkening back to their childhood, when movement was still fun and not a “chore,” can be motivating. This can be as easy as throwing a frisbee with a friend in the park, bouncing a ball while walking the dog or incorporating bursts of running (or skipping) into your walks.
While I probably won’t be skipping in public anytime soon, the article definitely reminded me of the outdoor activities I loved as a child. I’m still riding bikes as an adult, but I haven’t popped any wheelies lately. And I definitely haven’t climbed any trees. Maybe it’s time to change that.
What do you think of the “primal play” method? Is this something you would try? Or would you feel too silly?