The spring weather decided to join us. It seems like the warm weather has hit the entire United States, and every one is itching to get outside.

After a winter season of hibernating indoors, it is time to get some fresh aid and regain your physical fitness. Exercising outside is great- you get fresh air while toning your body. The feeling of fresh air just can’t compare to the stiff feeling of a gym. Plus, exercising outside is free, and that cannot be beat.

Are you new to physical exercise or a bit out of shape from the winter? No problem. Walking is one of the easiest- and cheapest- ways to get physically fit. Walking can be tailored to all levels of physical fitness, making it the perfect exercise activity.

When you think of walking, many people might try and argue that walking briskly to and from their car is a form of exercise. Unless you are doing that repeatedly, there is a small chance you are getting any good repercussions from that. To get the real health benefits (which include weight loss, depression relief, and better sleep), you need to treat walking like exercise and develop a plan.

Like any exercise program, start out with baby steps. You don’t need to walk 5 miles on the first day, especially if you have not been working out. Start with a time goal, let’s say you want to walk 30 minutes a day. You can complete that in one big chunk or split it up throughout the day when you have a chance. You can slowly increase your time, distance and intensity as you continue throughout your program.

Before you start working out, make sure that you have a good fiber-rich snack to help keep your energy levels high. The only caveat is to not eat right beforehand; you can give yourself an upset stomach.

After your snack, do a warm up walk before you get into your high speed walk. This will help warm up your muscles and joints, as well as waking up your heart. Light stretching before and after can help relieve sore muscles.

The next step is to find a good place to walk. If you are walking outside, the world is your gym. Find a place that inspires and calms you. This could be a park, trail in the mountains or throughout your neighborhood. If you are not sure how far you want to walk, find an outdoor track at a local school. That way you can finish when you want to without committing to the distance of a walk. (If you walk up a trail, you must walk back down.)

Walking, like any exercise program, can be difficult to put into habit at the beginning. If you have a hard time keeping your walking commitment, try and sneak it in throughout the day. Instead of grabbing a soda for an afternoon pick me up on your break, spend those 15 minutes walking outside for the same rejuvenation.

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