Lately it seems that all anyone is talking about is how two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight or obese. On one hand, I’m glad that it’s a hot topic of conversation, as it needs to be. But if you fall into this category, you might be tired of hearing it. You know you need to lose weight to protect yourself against heart disease,  stroke,  diabetes,  cancer and other chronic conditions, but to you, it’s just not that easy. Well, we’re here to make it easier!

Although thinking about starting any type of workout regimen might be daunting, there’s good news. In order to become healthier, you don’t have to be a “gym rat”, triathlete, marathon runner or any kind of runner for that matter. There are very simple steps you can take starting right now that will help you incorporate more movement into your everyday life. They don’t require fancy equipment and you don’t have to pay monthly dues. There are easy ways to move more, which will in turn result in a healthier you!

So what’s the catch? You have to want it for yourself. Better health is not something you can purchase. You can’t take a magic pill or go jogging once a month. It’s an ongoing endeavor that requires a little consistency on your part. However, if you are consistent, you will enjoy wonderful benefits!

Here are some simple ways to incorporate more movement into your everyday life:

1. Take the Stairs
Opt for the staircase instead of an elevator or escalator to get you where you need to be. At lunch or to get your energy level back up in the mid-afternoon, hit the stairs!

2. Park in the Furthest Spot From Your Destination*
Every step counts, so stop waiting for the closest spot to become available. Just park and walk! By finding a spot and walking, you will probably arrive at your destination at the same time you would have if you had waited for the closer spot!
*Please exercise (no pun intended) caution when in dimly lit areas, at night, or when you’re alone. Use your best judgement and if you don’t feel safe parking far away, please don’t. Your safety is paramount.

3. Start a New Routine
Instead of having dessert or plopping yourself down on the couch after dinner, go for a short walk. Whether it’s by yourself, with your dog or with your family, just get up and move! It will aid in digestion as well! You can also go for a stroll during your lunch break. It will clear your mind, stretch your legs and increase blood flow.

4. Ditch the Shopping Cart
Use a hand basket instead of the pushable shopping cart at the grocery store. You’ll get a nice workout from carrying your items through the store and possibly even save some money by only buying what you need, or only what will fit into your basket.

5. Clean the House
You’ll be amazed by the amount of calories you can burn by cleaning your own house! An added bonus is that you’ll save money by ditching the housekeeper! Sure, it can be tiring. But let’s face it, those calories aren’t going to burn themselves!

6. Become Your Own Landscaper/Gardener
Use a push mower to mow your own lawn, rake the leaves by hand, shovel snow by hand or tend to your garden. You’ll feel a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you’re finished and save money by doing it yourself.

7. Ban the Cab
For those of you in big cities, put a personal ban on taking a cab and walk the distance instead. Ladies, if you’re in heels (which are terrible for your body, by the way), bring a pair of sneakers with you, throw them on and get moving! Excuses are for the birds.

Keep in mind that every little thing you do will help get you towards your goal of a healthier lifestyle! I recently calculated how many calories I burn when I take the stairs to and from my office on the fifth floor. Going up and down five flights of stairs burns about 12-25 calories. (For those that are more fit, you will burn around 12 calories. Less fit, you will burn closer to 25, since your body will have to work harder). In the short-term 12-25 calories hardly seems worth the hassle. But think more long-term. For instance, in three years of taking the stairs everyday, I have burned approximately 20,000 calories. That’s 6 pounds of weight I have kept off by doing nothing except opting for the stairs instead of the elevator. And THAT makes those 12-25 calories worthwhile!

What do you do to incorporate more movement into your everyday life? Tell us in the comments below!

Peace, love and movement!

Melissa Villamizar, CPT

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

The American Heart Association’s blog is not intended to provide medical advice or treatment. Only your healthcare provider can provide that. The American Heart Association recommends that you consult your healthcare provider regarding your personal health matters. If you think you are having a heart attack, stroke or another emergency, please call 911 immediately.