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Steps in the light direction

Ten routes on the 10,000-step routine: Grab a pedometer and get going. The scenery's as nice as the benefits.

January 09, 2003|Leslee Komaiko | Special to The Times

If you got a pedometer for Christmas, Kwanzaa or Hanukkah, welcome to the club. The small beeper-like devices were one of the hottest gizmo gifts this year. The reason: the 10,000-steps craze.

The movement, which prescribes 10,000 steps a day for good health, was born nearly 40 years ago in Japan when a step counter -- called the manpo-meter -- was introduced. (Manpo implied 10,000 steps.) Today's inexpensive and widely available versions have helped fuel the recent trend. Entire towns are getting into the act. Rockhampton, Queensland, for one is trying to sign up all its citizens. In the U.S., the simple fitness formula is also picking up wide-ranging support -- from the National Institute for Fitness and Sports to the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research, especially after several medical journal articles reported that 10,000 steps a day would fulfill the surgeon general's call for 30 minutes of daily exercise.

Whether 10,000 steps will enjoy a long life in the States remains to be seen. After all, we are notoriously fickle about exercise. (When was the last time that stationary bike in your garage was not? Stationary that is.)

At least the outlay is minimal. My basic pedometer was $14.99 at Big 5. You can purchase more souped-up versions for $20 to $30. Most of these measure distance as well as steps. Technically though, all that matters here are steps. You can do them pacing in your office, mowing the lawn, taking the trash out, even shopping at Costco. (A quick in-and-out trip for staples took me 1,194 steps.) Or you could get your daily dose in one hearty walk and be a total sloth the rest of the day. Three cheers for sloth-hood.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday January 10, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 16 inches; 573 words Type of Material: Correction
10,000 steps -- A caption accompanying an article in Thursday's Calendar Weekend about walking routes stated that the 10,000-steps movement began in Japan 50 years ago. In fact, it began 40 years ago, as stated in the story.

So without further procrastination, here are 10 10,000-step routes. Unless you're a track star, allow yourself a couple of hours for each walk. After all, 10,000 steps are about five miles. If you do each one, you will not only feel incredibly smug, you will also inevitably see parts of Southern California you have missed until now.

On your mark. Get set. Step.

Brentwood/ Santa Monica

This route begins on one of the prettiest and most prestigious residential streets in Los Angeles: La Mesa Drive at 26th Street. From here, walk west on La Mesa. Huge Moreton Bay fig trees line the street. And each home is more impressive than the last. There are expansive Spanish haciendas, regal Tudors and streamlined contemporaries.

Then it's west on the grassy San Vicente Boulevard median, where the beautiful and hard-bodied Brentwood denizens jog as cars whiz by on both sides. At Palisades Park overlooking the Pacific, take a moment to stretch and find Catalina Island on the horizon. You'll often encounter picnickers here, an octogenarian sketching the landscape or a personal trainer drilling a middle-aged mom.

Continue south on Ocean Avenue to Montana Avenue, then hang a left. Around Lincoln Boulevard, let the shopping begin, or not. There are also multiple opportunities for caffeinated pick-me-ups, including Diedrich Coffee, Seattle's Best, Peet's, the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and two Starbucks. The people-watching is generally choice, albeit a bit repetitive: young mothers and yogis toting stick mats reign. Head north on 26th Street, past the Brentwood Country Mart (and Reddi Chick, which gives McDonald's a run for the money on the fry front), to your starting point.


Costa Mesa

It's hard to resist the lure of TSE, Sephora, Sanrio, Loro Piana and all the other fabulous boutiques that make up South Coast Plaza. Which may not be a bad thing. After all, a typical store browsing can tack on 100 to 200 steps easily. If you simply window-shop, however, one loop around the plaza tallies up almost 2,000 steps, or one mile. That means you'll need to do five loops, perhaps two on Level 1 and three on Level 2. This will involve a fair amount of dodging clueless shoppers and hyper children.

On the upside, the surface is extremely stroller-friendly. (You won't find better.) There's plenty of natural light from the expansive skylights as well as ample flora, both of which contribute to making this mall experience less antiseptic than most. Additionally, bathrooms and a wondrous array of sustenance, from Del Taco to Lawry's Carvery, are never far away.



Join the legions who hoof it around the Rose Bowl and neighboring Brookside Golf Course every day. Start at the Lot K sign off West Drive; this is the southern most end of the loop. One loop is about 6,625 steps. So you'll need to make 1 1/2 revolutions, which means you'll need to make two revolutions to get back to your car, and you're ahead of the game by a few thousand steps.

On nonevent days, there's plenty of free parking. Other pluses: The path is mostly flat, and enjoys the protection and scenery of the surrounding mountains. Call it faux rural. The only downside, aside from the threat of errant golf balls, is the steady stream of cars whooshing by. Still, it beats the tedium of a quarter-mile track.



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