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Jul 05, 2016 02:11PM ● By News Desk

(BPT) - If you spend a large portion of your day sitting, you're not alone.

Inactivity is one of the key factors contributing to the nation's high rate of obesity and its related health effects. Research shows 50-70% of people spend six or more hours a day sitting and 20-35% spend four or more hours a day watching TV.

This type of inactivity — or 'sitting disease' — can lead to serious health conditions. For example, nearly 35 % of U.S. adults are obese, and obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer are among the leading causes of preventable death. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. is $147 billion. Annual medical spending on an obese patient is estimated to be $1,429 higher than it is for a person of normal weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

While those figures are discouraging, there is one easy solution that could have a profound impact. Walking is one of the simplest, least expensive and most effective ways individuals can improve their health. It does not require any special skills, expensive equipment or a gym membership.

Below are six easy ways to incorporate more walking into your day:

1. Take a walk with a coworker at lunchtime or schedule a walking meeting.

2. Schedule a walk with the family after dinner.

3. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

4. Walk to see a colleague rather than call or e-mail.

5. Choose to park further when running errands or in the work parking lot.

6. Start or join a walking group.

By getting just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, such as a brisk walk, at least five times a week, you could realize significant health benefits. Walking has been shown to lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, improve muscle, bone and joint health, maintain a healthy weight, lead to better sleep and provide a mental boost.

That's why the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association encourages individuals, groups and whole communities to take steps toward a healthier lifestyle through its WalkingWorks® program. WalkingWorks, now in its 10th year, was developed in partnership with the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports to help Americans live healthier lives and reduce unnecessary medical costs.  Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies across the country also host annual National Walk@Lunch day events as a way to promote healthy habits by incorporating walking into a busy work day.

So don't just sit there and let that warm weather go to waste. Take steps to a better you, and see how walking does work!

*Before beginning any weight loss or nutritional program or new exercise regime, consult with your doctor or healthcare provider.