The American Heart Association recommends that we each strive for 10,000 steps a day, the equivalent of roughly five miles. Exercise is great to prevent and treat heart disease and risk factors for heart disease. Weight-bearing exercise is great for preventing osteoporosis and osteopenia. (And with walking, you’re the weight!) It can even improve your mood: Depression and other mood disorders can be lessened with exercise.
But with the kids back in school, there are lunches to pack and afterschool activities to carpool to, and it can feel like there’s no time. Something’s got to give. And that something is often your workout.
READ MORE: Find Your Flow Through Walking
It may be hard to imagine, but between everything you have to get done in a day, there’s still time to squeeze in 10,000 health-supporting steps. Here are seven ways to get it done:
Get a pedometer:
You can try to count your steps, but I bet you lose track before you hit 100. Put on a pedometer, and get moving! It’ll make you more mindful of your actions. Better yet, get enough pedometers for your whole family and make it a game. Most of our kids enjoy trying to beat us at our own game, right? Put a little healthy competition to work—for your health!
Check your progress:
If the number on your pedometer is below 2,000 steps and it’s already mid-morning, then you know you’re going to have to make an effort today. Look again before you get home at the end of the day. If you’re still not above 7,000, then you’d better get going. Think of errands that you could walk to. Perhaps you need to take the dog out again. Or stroll around the block with your child.
Walk your kids to school:
If you are one of the lucky few who can actually walk your kids to school, then I strongly encourage you to do this. It’s a simple way to sneak in some distance, saves on gas and is a great way to start the day.
Do a drop-in:
If you are at work, get up to see a colleague instead of texting them, emailing them, calling them or instant messaging them. Have a walking meeting instead of a phone call.
READ MORE: Sitting at Your Desk is Killing You!
Skip the lift:
Walk up and down stairs instead of taking the elevator. Too high to climb? Take the elevator up in the morning, then walk down on your way out.
Park farther away:
You don’t have to ditch your car to keep moving. Leave it a five or ten minute walk from the office. Taking public transportation? Get off a stop early or a stop late so you have to walk a bit extra.
If you’re in a store, walk up and down all the aisles even if you know where to find the item you’re looking for.Being more mindful of your goal will help you to reach it. And it’s a wonderful feeling to see that pedometer ring in at 10,000 steps!