You might not think that a simple walk through the park could make a big difference in your health, but it can. A simple walk, combined with a little bit of energy, can help you take steps toward a healthier lifestyle. And, having a doctor walk with you could provide just the incentive you need to make the habit stick. Once a month you can do just that with the Walk with a Doc program in selected Sacramento area parks.
“The program was created to remind people you don’t have to join a gym, or lift weights, or even run to see health benefits, you just have to get out and walk 30 minutes, 5 days a week,” said Jeff Leatherman, Director of Regional Parks. “Exercise, as simple as walking, can change your mood and improve your health in so many ways.”
According to the American Heart Association and the Center for Disease Control, 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise can reduce your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, give you energy and even boost your immune system. The benefits are numerous and Walk with a Doc gives you a fun chance to meet new people and ask a doctor questions. In 2013, with the support of local park district’s, the County’s Public Health Officer, Dr. Olivia Kasirye, issued prescriptions to tens of thousands of residents to go to their local park and get moving.
The walks include anywhere from 15-50 people but there is no limit to how many people can attend. The doctors who participate welcome general health and fitness related questions during the time spent on the walk. Could it be that people feel more comfortable asking questions while walking in a park? Take a Walk with a Doc and find out if the environment is less intimidating than a doctor’s office. Most important, there is no agenda of topics, if walkers have something on their mind, they can feel free to ask away.
“We often get people that come back to our events multiple times,” said Kris Wallach, Program Director for the Sacramento Valley Medical Society. “It is a fun social way to exercise and you begin to build relationships centered on activity.”
Last year the various events hosted more than 440 different walkers. This program is a collaborative effort from Your Sacramento Area Parks, the County Public Health Officer, various non-profits and the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society, who created the original program with funding from the California Medical Association Foundation.
“It is a great collaborative effort at very little cost. It’s just people bringing their resources to the table and sharing them,” said Judy Robinson, Principal Planner at Sacramento County. “The Walk with the Doc Program provides the doctor and the park districts provide the parks, at no cost.”
The dates and locations for each walk can be found at Your Sacramento Area Parks webpage. There is a walk at least once a month. Participation is free and guests are warmly welcomed to join.
Writer: Kaitlin Bane, Communication and Media Intern