What is it?
For as long as anyone can remember, doctors have been sending patients home with a long list of to-dos to improve their health. But how many patients follow these instructions?
In 2005, an Ohio cardiologist had an idea. What if he continued to encourage patients to make changes like eating better and exercising more, and then he actually went out into the community and did it with them?
And with that, Walk with a Doc was born.
The name of the program says it all. Once a month, in the community that is hosting the walk, the doctor gives a quick 5-10 minute talk on a health topic of their choosing. Once the chat ends, and everyone has had a chance to pick up a snack or water, the “Doc” and community members head out on a relaxed, comfortably-paced walk.
The walks can last up to one hour, but the goal is for all members to have an enjoyable experience. This means that everyone should take breaks whenever needed, grab a bench and enjoy the scenery, and finish walking when it’s best for them.
Why it’s important
Walk with a Doc works towards the simple mission of inspiring communities through movement and conversation.
Each walker gains an hour of valuable physical activity, which has a long list of health benefits, like lowering blood pressure and burning calories. But the benefits for those involved in the walks go way beyond physical health.
Since the program began, studies have shown that Walk with a Doc has helped people feel more confident and accomplished. Walkers say that they have more energy and that they are motivated to engage in more physical activities outside of the walks.
In addition to feeling better, both inside and out, Walk with a Doc has helped bridge the relationship gap between health care providers and community members. Surveys show that walkers now feel more confident when asking their doctors questions, and are more involved in their health.
Physical health benefits, improved emotional and social wellness, and better relationships with health care providers? Sounds like a win, win, win!
What we’re doing
The Long Island Health Collaborative, in partnership with Lisa Zimmerman, has started the first practicing Walk with a Doc chapter on Long Island, all thanks to the dedication of Dr. Donato Balsamo.
The last Sunday of every month, we meet at Babylon Town Hall Park. There are healthy snack options, health experts on-site to answer questions and discuss health topics, and plenty of friendly faces to make new connections.
The walk happens rain or shine, and Babylon Town Hall Parks offers beautiful scenery, plenty of seating options for a break, and a small enough trail loop that everyone can feel confident making it around at least once.
What you can do
Join us! All our invited and welcome to be a part of our walks. We love to meet new faces!
If you are interested in starting your own Walk with a Doc chapter, you can find all of the tools and info you need on the WWAD website.
You can also contact the LIHC at (631) 257-6957 or firstname.lastname@example.org.