It’s hard to beat regular activity when it comes to keeping yourself healthy. Not only does it lower the risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and osteoporosis, it also helps keep weight in check and boosts your mood. It’s about as close as you can get to a magic bullet for good health.

Best of all, you don’t need to run marathons or buy a pricey gym membership to benefit. Walking is a great and easy way to get the activity you need.

Many health organizations recommend a goal of 10,000 steps per day. This can seem like a lot at first, but you’ll be surprised how natural it feels once you get into the groove. Start slowly if you need to, beginning with 2,500 steps per day, then each week add 500 steps to your daily goal.  Before you know it, you’re up to 10,000 or beyond. Smartphone apps or clip-on pedometers are a great way to keep track of your steps.

If walking’s not really your thing, choose something else you enjoy that gets you moving – like cycling, dancing, or playing basketball – and shoot for at least 30 minutes a day.  More is even better, but any amount is better than none.

Try these tips for fitting in the activity that’s so important for health:

  • Eat lunch on the move
    Grab a light lunch and a friend, and eat, talk, and walk during your mid-day break at work or school.
  • Step out before breakfast
    Wake up early and go for a walk or hit the gym before the rest of the family wakes up.  There’s nothing quite like getting a workout in the bank at the beginning of the day.
  • Try not to use the “tired” excuse
    Of course there are times when we really do feel just too tired to move, but don’t fall into the trap of using the “too tired” excuse too much. Most of the time, a good walk or workout is just what we need to get a boost in energy and mood.
  • Set a time with a friend
    Set up a regular time to walk or workout with a friend – and try not to cancel. If someone’s relying on you, you’re more likely to get that workout in. And check in with each other to see how you’re doing with your workout goals.
  • Choose active errands
    Most of the trips we take by car are under a mile. Instead of driving, think about walking or cycling (if it’s safe) on some of your trips to the store or playground.
  • Keep workout clothes and shoes handy
    Keep some workout clothes and an extra pair of athletic shoes in your bag or in your car so you’re ready to walk, play ball, or hit the gym whenever the opportunity comes up.
  • Turn off the screens
    Nothing quite lulls us into inactivity like watching television or being on our other screens – like, tablets, phones, or computers. Try turning off the screens and putting on your workout shoes instead. It’ll make getting out the door for a walk or workout that much easier. And don’t worry, all the screens will still be waiting for you when you get back.