An essential part of Judaism, according to some, is to become not just spiritually fit, but also physically. So don’t expect God to be OK with you skipping those annoying stomach crunches or sitting around eating only junk food.

As the medieval Jewish scholar, philosopher and physician Maimonides wrote in “The Laws of Personal Development” (Hilchot De’ot): “Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God — for one cannot understand or have any knowledge of the Creator if he is ill — therefore, he must avoid that which harms the body and accustom himself to that which is healthful and helps the body become stronger.”

Wish I had known this before I decided to fry our turkey this year for Thanksgiving. As well as those latkes and sufganiyot for Chanukah. (And on the same day, since the holidays coincided this year!)

I know I’m not the only one who will be feeling my waistband tightening in the post-holidays season. Every year, too many of us overindulge, whether on candied yams or sweet noodle kugel topped with cornflakes. And every year, as soon as Chanukah has passed, we resolve to be healthier and lose that weight — battle those blintzes, push back the effects of pumpkin pie, get over all that gelt (and guilt).

The solution could be as simple as walking it off. That’s no big secret, as walking is known to give you more energy and stamina, lift your mood and increase the number of calories your body uses. It also tones your muscles, strengthens your bones and lowers your risk for a number of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes.

Too bad a recent survey for Kaiser Permanente found that a third of respondents don’t walk for 10 minutes at one time over the course of a week — far below the weekly minimum 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Perhaps one issue is where to walk. The good news is that here in Southern California, we are better off than many people back East, who have to deal with far worse weather. This winter, I’ll be in great shape to take advantage of any of the 206 walking paths of varying lengths within five miles of my house in the North Valley, as listed by the American Heart Association on its Web site startwalkingnow.org.

But not all walks are created equal. That’s why we’ve picked three of our favorites to feature in this issue of TRIBE. Claudia Boyd-Barrett takes us on a stunning sunset trek along a beach in Malibu, as well as a walk to share with kids — complete with tide pools, seals and an educational playground — in Carpinteria. If a beautiful view from the top of the world is more your speed, she suggests a trail near Studio City on the east edge of the Santa Monica Mountains.

Your body will need some fuel if you’re going to take on any of these hikes, but it doesn’t have to come in the form of leftover Chanukah cheesecake. Writer Julie Bien profiles a Northridge business dedicated to producing high-protein baked goods — that’s Muscle Muffins to you and me — that are kosher, all-natural and low-sodium.

Every exercise regimen needs to start sometime, somewhere, even if it’s just a short walk during your lunch break. It’s always nice to have something to aspire to, however, and we hope these stories will provide some incentive.

So grab a pair of sneakers, a healthy snack, and make Maimonides proud. Happy trails.