Bodybuilder and fitness influencer Austin Dunham is, by many metrics, in amazing shape. But in a recent YouTube video, he admits he has been leading a “pretty sedentary lifestyle” outside of his workouts, and on average was only walking around 3,000 to 4,000 steps each day.
“I was starting to feel lethargic, I didn’t have as much energy as I usually would have because I was sitting down most of the day,” he says. So he decides to make a change, and commits to walking 10,000 steps every single day for one month, in the hope that it will help him build the habit, and tracks the changes it makes to his health and overall lifestyle.
After 30 days and 300,000 steps, he has lost a little weight. Dunham acknowledges that he was also dieting during this experiment, but states that walking every single day enabled him to create a greater caloric deficit, aiding in fat loss. “The fact is, when you increase your daily step count you increase you daily energy expenditure,” he says.
However, aside from the most obvious physical effects, Dunham also has more energy and feels able to get more done now than he did before. “I’ve been personally more productive when I started doing 10,000 steps a day,” he says, explaining that he gets at least 5,000 steps in first thing in the morning. “Since I put it at the forefront of my day during my morning routine, it allows me to almost prime my day. I don’t wake up and eat breakfast like I used to, I don’t wake up and consume media like I used to, I just start off my day with a good habit, just me, the sun, and fresh air.”
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Finally, he has found the experience overall to have made a huge improvement to his mental health. “The way you actually get these steps in could play a huge role in these benefits,” says Dunham, explaining that he made a concerted effort to take his walks outside so he could enjoy nature and get some sunlight exposure, rather than completing his steps on a treadmill in the gym.
“Doing remote work for so long, some days and some weeks I will find myself in this depressive state, and I realize it’s because I was staying in all day, going to the gym, and coming home,” he adds. “Now with this implemented in my routine… I just notice I have been in a more relaxed, positive mood with less stress, and that really correlates with all areas of my life.”
Philip Ellis is News Editor at Men’s Health, covering fitness, pop culture, sex and relationships, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in GQ, Teen Vogue, Man Repeller and MTV, and he is the author of Love & Other Scams.