For people hoping to shed some pounds, the first step can be the most difficult.

Once they get on track toward that important goal, many find walking to be one way to better health.

An annual venture that encourages people to embark on a healthy trek is on the way in March with Walk Kansas, a team-based program that focuses on active living and better nutrition choices.

Through Walk Kansas, each team identifies one of three goals, or challenges.

Challenge One is covering the distance from border to border in Kansas 423 miles and would require each member to reach the minimum guidelines for physical activity of 150 minutes per week. Activities may be walking or other exercise.

To reach Challenge Two, the team must go across Kansas and back, or five hours per week for each participant. Challenge Three takes the team some 1,200 miles around the perimeter of the state, a six-hour-per-week goal for each person.

More details on this year's March 16 through May 10 program may be found at Locally, information is available at the Finney County Extension Office, 501 S. Ninth St.

Workplaces in particular have cause to encourage their employees to participate in such activities.

When it comes to walking, a brisk 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of high blood pressure and other ailments. Healthy employees are more productive, so getting them to walk makes good business sense.

And more employers are indeed launching wellness programs in their workplaces. One good example would be Garden City USD 457, which has been singled out at the state level for exercise and nutrition initiatives involving students and staff.

Of course, it's not necessary to wait for the Walk Kansas campaign to take positive strides at a time some two-thirds of Kansans are considered overweight or obese.

Anyone can get started now by pursuing a good walk or other activity when and where possible to move toward a longer, healthier life. With warmer temperatures ahead, it's a particularly good time to consider getting on the path toward weight loss and better health.