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Al Roker Talks Walking His Way to Back to Healthy, Finding Joy in His Work and More (EXCLUSIVE)

Learn what musicians are on his workout playlist!

It’s no secret that Al Roker loves walking, and through the Start TODAY program, he’s encouraging others to join him on the journey to better health. After battling cancer and a life-threatening blood clot, the 69-year-old doting grandfather, TV personality and author has never been busier — and walking gives him the energy to fuel his hectic schedule.

“I have now had 186 days in a row of 10,000-plus steps,” the beloved TODAY weatherman, who appears on the cover of our latest issue, proudly tells Woman’s World (get your copy here!).

Al Roker on the cover of Woman's World
Woman’s World

Al Roker makes sure to keep walking fun. “I listen to music, especially if it’s a purposeful walk. I like the Spinners, Elton John, Lionel Richie, the Four Tops, Michael Jackson — a lot of ’70s and ’80s, and some ’90s too,” he says. “My wife, on the other hand, doesn’t listen to anything. She just runs and that’s that. I can get that, or I can get music. I don’t understand how people can listen to books because I get so engrossed, I stop.”

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Al Roker and Deborah Roberts, 2024
Al Roker and his wife, Deborah Roberts, in 2024Paul Morigi/Getty for Haddad Media

Al Roker says he has been counting steps while walking for a long time. “With the advent of the Fitbit and the Apple Watch, it became much easier. I’ve been doing it for a while, but this is probably the longest stretch of 10,000-plus steps I’ve ever done,” he shares, noting he often takes the stairs at the TODAY show offices.

“There have been articles that say you need 10,000 steps and now there have been others that said you don’t really need 10,000,” he adds. “You can do 8,000 or 5,000. I like the number 10,000. It feels like you’ve done something.”

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Al Roker keeps busy

One look at the recent additions to his resume and it’s obvious that Roker is doing quite a lot these days. He and his daughter, Courtney Roker Laga, have penned a new cookbook, Al Roker’s Recipes to Live By, available October 15, and he recently released the fourth novel in his “Morning Show Murders” series, Murder on Demand.

“Billy Blessing is a former morning show host and restaurant owner who happens to be bald and Black and chunky, but very good looking,” is how Roker laughingly describes his protagonist. “In this latest book, he finds himself back on his heels a little bit, struggling to get back to the life he knew, and somebody offers him a ticket back in, but it’s a dangerous ticket.”

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Al Roker, 2024
Al Roker in 2024Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

A positive attitude at work

Roker enjoys writing and embarking on creative adventures outside of TODAY, but in talking to him, it’s obvious that the jovial TV personality finds much fulfillment from his longtime early morning gig.

“I’m very fortunate, I love what I do,” he says. “I’m riding with some great folks — Savannah [Guthrie], Hoda [Kotb], Craig [Melvin], Carson [Daly], Dylan [Dreyer] and Sheinelle [Jones] and all my producers. [Former TODAY weatherman] Willard Scott once told me, ‘In a job like this, you stay on the train until they throw you off and even then, you try to get back on.’ I love being on this train.”

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The TV personality with Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin, 2024
Left to right: Al Roker, Hoda Kotb, Savannah Guthrie and Craig Melvin in 2024Nicholas Hunt/WireImage/Getty

In addition to writing and taking care of weather duties on TODAY, Roker relishes spending time with his granddaughter Sky. “My happy place right now is my granddaughter. She’s a happy baby and I just like spending time with her,” he says.

Roker is grateful to have this time with family and to have survived his bout with cancer. Following his surgery, his doctor tasked him with being up and walking by the end of the week, and that sparked his love affair with movement.

“A lot of good things start by accident,” he says of the origin of Start TODAY, a wellness community 700,000 strong where members come together for fitness challenges, expert guidance and meal planning. “I’d gotten in the habit of walking and started posting on Instagram. People responded and we thought, why not do a walking group?”

How Roker stays active

Roker says his exercise routine depends on the day. “I wake up about 4 o’clock to do our weather stuff, so by 4:45 I’ve talked with my meteorologist, and we’ve gone over what we want to do, so then I do a couple miles on the treadmill before I get started.”

“Now, as it’s staying lighter later and earlier, I try to get a half-hour to 45-minute walk in in Central Park and back again,” he adds. “Some days I’ll walk home from work. It’s not a like an active walk. It’s more like a stroll or sashay, a promenade, if you would,” he says with a chuckle.

The TV personality in 2023
Al Roker walking in 2023Roy Rochlin/Getty

Roker says when he’s on his treadmill, he likes to feel challenged. “I will use the Fitness Plus on my TV,” he says. “I play my music, but I can watch their app or program that gives you challenges. Like for 90 seconds, do a 9% incline and then back again and then speed up and back.”

He also enjoys taking a mathematical approach to fitness, noting that when using the app, “I get real time data feedback on what my heart rate is, and they have an algorithm for where you are in the pack and whether you are in the back, the middle, the front or ahead. I respond to data. I like data.”

Roker encourages other to take that first step and start walking, noting that it doesn’t have to be intimidating. “You don’t have to go run a marathon or half marathon, but you can take a walk,” he says.

“Studies show how beneficial it is just taking a 15-minute walk after dinner,” he continues. “You don’t have to walk fast. You just take a walk. Walking is one of the easiest, most accessible forms of exercise and it stimulates the places in the brain that you need stimulated.”

Walking can also be a philosophical pursuit. “I think the journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step,” Roker says with a smile. “Maybe you walk around your block, then maybe you walk around your block twice, maybe you walk two blocks and back, and before you know it, you are walking.” His enthusiasm is enough to make you want to walk right alongside him.

Scan the QR code below to sign up for the Start Today Newsletter, so you can join Al and a supportive community of thousands to become a healthier, happier and better you.

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