This article is sponsored by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, which has partnered with Qcitymetro since 2010.

Ayesha Qureshi
Ayesha Qureshi, MPH

It is important to stay active during the day, because a sedentary lifestyle can prove detrimental to our health. According to the National Institutes of Health, a sedentary lifestyle can cause weight gain, which can lead to issues such as heart disease and diabetes. . This is why 150 minutes of physical activity each week is recommended.

However, with busy schedules, finding time for physical activity can be a challenge. One option for those too busy for a daily workout is to track your steps. Even though it is not the same as getting a 30-minute, high-intensity cardio work, increasing the number of steps you take each say can be beneficial.

Health experts recommended 10,000 steps a day, which equals about five miles and 300 calories burned. On average, a person gets about 3,000 to 5,000 steps a day, even those with sedentary jobs.

The first step is to get a pedometer, which tells you how many steps you are getting each day. There are many to choose from. Some are basic and track only your steps; others are fancy and perform other functions, such as monitor sleep patterns and heart rate. All varieties are good; it simply depends on what you are looking for. You can even download a free pedometer app on your smart phone.

Once you get your pedometer, the tips below will help you get moving toward an active lifestyle.

Start Slow

Start by tracking the steps you take during a normal day. This gives you an idea of how much activity you are getting already. If you’re averaging 3,000, aim for 3,500 or 4,000 the next day and slowly build up.

Get Friends/Coworkers Involved

Need motivation? How about setting up a challenge with your friends and coworkers to see who can get the most steps on a given day or week. A little friendly competition will not only motivate you but will make this a fun, too.

Find Ways to Move More

If you’re at home, walk around the house during a television commercial break. Park further away from mall entrances. Take the stairs. Use the restroom that may be farthest from your office at work. Once you start using your pedometer more, you will find that, almost automatically, you will begin looking for ways to get in more steps.

Consistency is Key

When you first decide to track steps, set a goal to do this at least two weeks without fail. After that, stick with it. A pedometer is easy to keep with you. They are small enough to fit on your wrist, clipped to you clothing or belt, or on a smart phone app. Once you get in a habit, don’t give up and lose the momentum.

No matter how busy we are, there are always ways to be more active during our day. Tracking steps is an easy way to obtain an active lifestyle and maintain good health.

Ayesha Qureshi is a certified health and wellness coach and has a background in health behavior and health education.