Supporting advanced solutions to promote good health

for the individual, the health system and the community.

Memorial Hermann is committed to improving the health of the communities we serve, now and for future generations. We know that exercise is a crucial contributor to physical and mental well-being. Research has shown that exercise can be as effective as prescription medication in the management of several chronic diseases. We are dedicated to providing individuals of all ages, cultures and income levels with the knowledge and resources they need to make regular exercise a part of their daily lives.

Memorial Hermann is proud to support and participate in Exercise is Medicine®, a global health initiative founded in 2007 by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) with the American Medical Association. The vision of the initiative is to make physical activity assessment and promotion a standard in clinical care and increase access to evidence-based physical activity resources for people  of all abilities everywhere.

Exercise is Medicine is one of Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation’s (CBC’s) four intersecting pillars, which also include Access to Health Care, Emotional Well-being and Food as Health. Together they form the foundation of the CBC’s work.

StepHEALTHY Leader Testimonies

The Benefits of Exercise

Committing to exercising regularly is the key to a lifetime of good health. In fact, the benefits of exercise cannot be overstated. Walking as little as 30 minutes a day can lower your risk of chronic disease, help you lose weight, maintain or improve your mobility, boost your energy and improve your mental well-being.

In support of its Exercise is Medicine initiative, the ACSM, in its Exercise is Medicine Fact Sheet, compiled a summary of research findings confirming the benefits of exercise. According to the research, regular physical activity has been shown to:

  • Reduce the risk of developing type II diabetes
  • Reduce the risk of developing 13 cancers
  • Reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and improve cognition
  • Lower the risk of stoke by 34% and up to 50% among older adults
  • Prevent the incidence of depression and anxiety as effectively as medication or behavioral therapy
  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, with a magnitude of risk reduction comparable to that of not smoking
  • Reduce high blood pressure
  • Prevent lower back pain and decrease the pain and stiffness associated with osteoarthritis
  • Decrease the severity of obstructive sleep apnea, independent of changes in body weight
  • Support higher academic achievement and improve on-task behavior in elementary students
  • Improve manipulative skills, locomotor skills, muscular strength and endurance, skill-related fitness, self-efficacy and attention, cognitive and social/emotional outcomes in children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorder

To learn more about these findings, or for a list of references, see the Exercise is Medicine Fact Sheet.

Our Exercise is Medicine Programs and Initiatives

Health happens in a neighborhood. Through participation in our programs, individuals within our communities can improve their health, and socialize and support one another in achieving their fitness and wellness goals. In short, our programs help improve quality of life.

Our programs are tailored to the unique culture and interests of participating neighborhoods or communities. We invest in implementing these programs, and community members help lead and nurture them. We meet people where they live, work and play to promote healthier lifestyles!


Led by community leaders, our StepHEALTHY programs are designed to empower communities with health education and fun exercise activities to help them improve their health and reduce risk of chronic diseases. These programs are offered to participants free of charge.

StepHEALTHY groups are active in two Houston-area parks:

  • Highland/DeSoto Park in Houston’s Acres Homes neighborhood. Click here for program details.
  • Clark Park in north Houston (established in 2016). Click here for program details.

Activities offered include:

  • StepHEALTHY Walking Clubs – Members meet daily, Monday through Friday, to walk, socialize, learn and support one another in achieving their health goals. They maintain 300 minutes of physical activity a week, exceeding the CDC requirements of 150 minutes per week. Some of our walkers refer to themselves as an 'army of support' for each other. More than just exercising in the park, they come to ‘own the park,’ spearheading park events. After a walking club is up and running, club participants may add other forms of exercise, such as Zumba, line dancing or strength training, based on the culture of their community.
  • Walk with a Doc – In this nationally recognized program, a physician walks, talks and provides health education and inspiration to members of the community.
  • Dancing with a Doc – Through our signature program, Dancing with a Doc, participants learn how emotional well-being supports a healthy quality of life. The program combines a fun and exciting Zumba class instructed by a psychiatrist followed by a presentation on mental health and wellness.
  • StepHEALTHY Connect – Through our StepHEALTHY Connect program, leaders of our walking clubs are given an opportunity to become certified group fitness instructors and the health champions in their communities.
  • Fit and Finance – Pay yourself with the benefits of exercise. StepHEALTHY Fit and Finance is a free program that combines the health benefits of exercise with financial management education.

To learn more about these programs, email StepHEALTHY@memorialhermann.org or call (713) 338-5997.

Park Infrastructure Improvements

StepHEALTHY programs revitalize neighborhood parks in underserved communities. Research has shown that people who use parks and open spaces are three times more likely to achieve the recommended levels of physical activity than nonusers, and organized activities in parks in low-income neighborhoods can increase park use by as much as 25%. Our goal is to increase awareness  and access to safe, sustainable, culturally appropriate physical activities that engage the community.

  • Clark Park:  Through our ‘Walk to Clark Park’ initiative, we increased access to the park from two schools with new concrete and added sidewalk art reflecting the community’s culture. In addition, we created a community garden, where members of the community grow and learn about fresh produce and create connections with one another. We also resurfaced the park’s basketball court and reconstructed the soccer field, replacing the soccer goal posts and bleachers. Up next, exercise stations!
  • Highland Park:  In this neighborhood park in Acres Homes, we made improvements to the exterior of the community center, replacing rotted wood, pressure washing, painting and adding artwork. These improvements inspired the Houston Parks and Recreation Department to do the same for the inside! We also brought the Exergame Fitness program to the community center—fun, interactive fitness and gaming equipment for students of all ages and their families. Plans are underway to refurbish the park’s outdoor basketball pavilion, in collaboration with the Houston Rockets and Houston Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Moody Park:  In collaboration with the Houston Rockets and Houston Parks and Recreation Department, we refurbished the indoor basketball court and outdoor basketball pavilion in this park in the Near Northside neighborhood of Houston.
  • Forum Park: Come out to enjoy the newly renovated park in Alief which includes a revitalized walking trail, parking lot, half basketball court and mini pitch. The beautification process was done in collaboration with Episcopal Health Charities, Texas Children’s Hospital and Dynamo Charities.

Additional Health and Wellness Resources

Looking to exercise on your own? Check out our easy-to-follow cardio and strength training videos, created by our StepHEALTHY Workout Team and fitness specialists at Memorial Hermann I Rockets Sports Medicine Institute. You’ll also find additional information for managing your health, plus tips for finding and creating your own ideal workout!

Also check out our helpful measuring tools, including a target heart rate chart, waist measurement and BMI guidelines.

To learn more about Memorial Hermann Community Benefit Corporation’s Exercise is Medicine initiatives, email StepHEALTHY@memorialhermann.org or call (713) 338-5997.