With the first days of spring right around the corner and warmer weather heading our way, now is the perfect time to get active and start a new exercise routine.

If the idea of an exercise routine – or just the word “exercise” in general – makes you want to stop reading, don’t. Getting active can be as easy as opening the front door and stepping outside.

“Too often people think that if they aren’t hitting the gym every day for more than an hour a day, it’s not worth it,” says Jessica Anderson, registered and licensed dietitian at the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center. “Walking is the ultimate physical activity for people of all ages and health levels.”

Not only does walking help relieve stress, reduce body fat and lead to weight loss, Anderson says it can in turn help individuals get off certain, sometimes expensive, medications related to high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol.

“Deciding to get active doesn’t have to mean committing to run a marathon or even running at all,” Anderson says. “Baby steps are really the best way to stick with a program and be successful. Start by deciding to walk at least 10 minutes a day, then after a couple of weeks, increase to 15 and then to 20 minutes. Persistence is the key.”

Anderson compares exercise to paying the bills, cleaning the house and doing laundry –it’s something that has to be viewed as a necessity and part of one’s everyday routine.

Walking as a physical activity also lends itself to convenience. Make a plan to walk a few minutes a day during your lunch break, or before or after work. If the weather is nice, walk outside. If not, walk at the mall, in your office building or even in place at home in front of the television. It doesn’t require a gym membership, special equipment or pricey accessories.

“Turn it into a social event; team up with a walking buddy,” Anderson says. “On any given weekend, there are usually a number of walks being held in communities across the state. By walking and talking, you can be creating a healthier you, both mentally and physically.”

— Marketing & Communications