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Easy Ways to Be More Active in 2013

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the walking path around my children’s neighborhood playground

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season filled with love, joy, and relaxation! I sure did. Now I’m back and as I move on from the shock and grief of the Newtown, CT, tragedy last month, I feel ready to tackle 2013 in the healthiest and most fulfilling way possible.

One way I maintain good health is by staying active. I’m a dedicated runner, but many experts state that the small things you do during your daily life are more important to your health than running for hours every day or training for triathlons. (For the record, I don’t do either of those!) For example, health professionals typically recommend that everyone take at least 10,000 steps per day; doing so means you’re moving around enough to avoid a sedentary life and the health problems that come with it.

One way to track your activity level is by wearing a pedometer that counts your steps. I started using one when my children started school in the fall; I hadn’t been running at all in August due to injury, I was frustrated with the ten pounds I’d put on the winter before (again, while dealing with a running injury–the same one, actually!), and I suspected that now that my kids are past the nonstop-movement toddler age, I probably wasn’t moving around very much on the days I didn’t run.

I love my pedometer; it spurred me on to make a point to take extra walks with my daughters or take writing breaks during the day to move around. (It also helped me drop the ten pounds, I’m quite sure!) But whether or not you use a pedometer, you can work on increasing your physical activity each day by making just a few tweaks to your behavior. Here are a few tips for upping your steps. And while this list is geared toward moms–because they work for me, as a mom–anyone can use them around the house or in their neighborhood.

  • Never consolidate trips. You know how your first instinct is to get everything in one trip?—take all the clean laundry upstairs at the same time, for example, or get all the grocery bags carried inside at once? Break the habit of being efficient and always take separate trips–as many as you can–to get a particular task done. Take those groceries inside one bag at a time. Take the toys upstairs now and the laundry up later. Sure, it takes more time, but not enough to truly affect your day. I promise.
  • Nix the remote control. I like to watch the morning news while folding clothes, or the occasional afternoon talk show while I do dinner prep. But I never take the remote control with me. If I need to turn the TV up, down, or off, I get up, walk over, and do it by hand. Just like olden times! ;)
  • Pace the floor while talking on the phone. Self-explanatory.
  • When completing household tasks, make it a habit to take one lap around the room or the entire level of your house every time you get up to grab something you need.
  • Make your children’s outdoor playtime count as activity for you, too. The park a block from my house has a 1/3-mile path around the playground, with nothing obscuring my view of the play area for the entire lap around it. In the fall, I’d take my girls to the park after school; they’d play while I walked a few loops. But you don’t need a perfect path; even if you stroll the perimeter of theĀ  jungle gym area while your kiddos romp around, you’re taking steps.

Of course there are many more ways to move more in the new year, but I hope these few simple tips help you get started with a more active daily life. Happy 2013, and stay healthy!