• 39°

Experts urge residents to become more active

Nathaniel Holmes Jr., left, and his wife Ernestine Marie Holmes, right, were at Bloch Park’s walking trail early Friday morning in an attempt to beat the incoming rain. -- Daniel Evans

Nathaniel Holmes Jr., left, and his wife Ernestine Marie Holmes, right, were at Bloch Park’s walking trail early Friday morning in an attempt to beat the incoming rain. — Daniel Evans

Getting in shape sounds difficult, but local experts say getting started is really the hard part.

Kevin Freels, with UAB Selma Family Medicine, said he tells his patients that taking “baby steps” is all it takes, whether that be playing with grandkids five minutes each afternoon or spending time at a walking trail.

“It can be as simple as just getting outside and walking,” Freels said. “I’m a big advocate for — I call it ‘jalking’ — you jog for a minute and then walk for two minutes.”

“Jalking,” or taking breaks between walking and jogging is actually better for weight loss, Freels said. By slowing down and then starting again, the heart is constantly working and doesn’t level out.

Regular exercise helps combat medical problems such as high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes immensely, Freels said.

Of course, eating healthier is the other half of the battle. Callie Nelson, Dallas County extension coordinator, said eating better starts with small changes, not large ones, and that it is best to keep things simple.

“There are many things you can do, so don’t start with all of them at one time,” Nelson said.

One of the easiest things to do to lower calorie intake is to replace soft drinks with water, Nelson said. For those who need help getting their recommended daily water intake each day, Nelson said to try drinking through a straw or adding a flavor to the water.

“If you know you are consistently drinking more water, you are going to be more hydrated and you are going to start to lose weight because you are lowering your sugar intake,” Nelson said.

Nelson’s other tips include trying to get the daily-recommended serving of fruits and vegetables, which is 5-8 each day, finding a schedule-friendly workout routine and finding a workout companion for accountability.

She also stressed patience, especially for anyone trying to lose weight.

“If you are trying to lose weight, don’t think it is going to come off all at one time,” Nelson said. “You didn’t put it all on over night. A pound or pound and a half per week is good, because it gives you more flexibility and it also becomes a way of life.”