ET spoke with the beloved weatherman as he headed to Sonoma County with his co-anchors for a special two-day event.
Fresh air, good food and good company can do the body a world of good, and few people know that better than Al Roker. ET spoke with the 68-year-old weatherman alongside his co-hosts of the third hour of Today, Sheinelle Jones, Craig Melvin and Dylan Dreyer, during a visit to St. Francis Winery & Vineyards in Santa Rosa, California, for the Today show's special two-day segment highlighting the area's local artisans, wine and culinary offerings.
According to NBC, the "Start Today" event will include "enlightening conversations, wellness-focused activities and outdoor excursions."
Roker would know a lot about that -- Melvin revealed that the segment was inspired by the beloved weatherman's own wellness journey. "He's not gonna tell you this because he plays humble on television [but] this was borne from Al Roker's walks," Melvin explained to ET. "He used to walk through Central Park and he'd rack up, like, 10 or 20,000 steps. And all of a sudden someone was like, 'You should start a walking club on the show! Then, next thing you know, half a million people are walking around America."
Roker humbly credited his doctor for the inspiration, sharing, "Well, my doctor told me he wanted me walking five miles a day, call him at the end of the week. I called him, he said, 'Where are you?' I said, 'I'm 35 miles from home!'"
The famed anchor has had to adjust his wellness routine following long stints in the hospital late last year due to blood clots in his leg that ultimately veered to his lungs. After more than two months away from the morning show, Roker made his triumphant return to the program on Jan. 6, when he and Deborah Roberts -- his wife of nearly 30 years -- sat down and revealed he was "very, very, very sick" and that his mere presence in the studio was major because he proved to be "a living, breathing miracle."
"What I will say is, one of the things I learned over the last several months is the power of positive thinking and the power of prayer," Roker told ET, reflecting on the changes he's made to his life since his hospitalization. "The number of prayers that came my way and my family's way, for Deborah and my kids, I know made a tremendous difference. And once you have a bit of a health scare, you really realize you can't take it for granted. So, I try and eat a little better [and] exercise a little more."
Roker added that another vital key to his routine is sleep, explaining, "One thing I think we all kinda grapple with, and these guys probably more than me because they've got younger kids, is getting sleep. You know how important a good night's sleep is for your mental health, your physical health? Your body repairs itself, your mind repairs itself when you sleep. You cannot catch up on sleep and that has been my biggest goal, I think, in the beginning of the new year, is to try to get a minimum of six to seven hours of sleep a day."
While his co-anchors joked that it's infinitely harder with little ones determined to get in the way of rest, they share similar sentiments about prioritizing their wellness.
Dreyer shared that as a mother of three young children, she strives to set an example for them. "I make an effort to cook a healthy dinner, we sit down and eat together every night, you know? We try to stay active, not just sit around the house all day on the iPads or whatnot, so I think it's just trying to live by example for them," she said.
Melvin advocated for focusing on mindfulness, revealing that he starts his day with the Headspace app and has gotten into the habit of journaling.
"I had a conversation with the executive producer of this show about a year or so ago about journaling, a guy named Tom Mazzarelli, and he made a good point. He was like, 'You know, one of the things about journaling for a lot of people, it's like they write things in there that they want other people to read 20 years from now and they're not really honest about the journaling,'" he shared. "So I've made a concerted effort over the last year... I'm sure one day when my kids read it, they're gonna be like, 'Oh, Dad was messed up,' but I've focused on trying to be more honest with my journaling."
Jones praised her co-anchors, pointing out that they focus on health and wellness "because we understand the importance of it."
"I think we're better at home, I think I'm better as a mom, I think I'm happier, I think I'm better at work when I'm clear," she said, adding that although her co-hosts like to tease her about her "mantras," it's the "little things like that" that make the effort meaningful. "He does Headspace, I do the Calm app, but what I've noticed is that -- like now we're right here. I can look at the sky and we can hear the birds. We did this thing today here in Sonoma County, olive grove bathing... it's just little things like that."
The big things are also a great motivation to keep going. This year marks 45 years since Roker began his journey with NBC, starting off with WKYC Cleveland in 1978. But there are no signs of stopping for the weatherman.
"You know what? I think I'm actually more passionate," he declared. "My dad drove a bus for eight hours a day and then he moved into management in transit authority and when he said it was no longer fun, he retired. He retired at the age of 55. I get up every morning and I get to be with these guys. I get to be with Savannah [Guthrie] and Hoda [Kotb] and Carson [Daly]. And I cannot tell you how much I look forward to it. Every day is a different day and our audience who comes down to the Today show, our crew, our producers -- how do you give up something like this?"
"Willard Scott told me you don't get off the train until you're pushed off," he concluded.
Today kicks off its two-day "Start Today" event on Friday at 9 a.m. PST on NBC.