Around 10,000 people have walked the 2,181 mile-long Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain, Ga., to Maine’s Mt. Katahdin. In contrast, more than 100 million North Americans don’t get any physical activity for even 10 minutes a day! And many of those folks, plus another 100 million or more, are overweight.

Not surprising when you consider that weight gain often is a result of not enough healthy activity and too much unhealthy food. And, for some folks, such bad habits are even more damaging because they have a genetic tendency to pack on pounds.

The good news? Genes can be switched on or off, depending on lifestyle choices: If you get up and moving, you actually can turn off the genes in you that promote weight gain. Walking just an hour a day can slash your genetic predisposition for obesity in half. And walking is the single best physical activity to achieve a younger Real Age and stay stress-free. So, step up to our steps for better health:

1. Walk at least 10,000 steps a day -- total. Start slow; aim to hit that mark in a month or so. You’ll be surprised at how easy this becomes. And it’s even easier if you do it with a pal.

2. Eat plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits and lean protein; choose unsaturated fats (olive oil); get enough omega-3 fatty acids a day to equal 900 mg (take supplements from algae); and drink plenty of water.

3. Sleep at least seven hours a night (many folks need eight). It helps keep off extra pounds.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Medical Officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. For more information go to