Walk with a Doc project picking up steam in California

April 03, 2013
Area(s) of Interest: Physician Leadership Professional Development & Education 

The recipe for good health doesn’t always come from prescription pads or office visits.

"Walk with a Doc,” a national campaign brought to the Golden State through the involvement of the CMA Foundation, aims to demonstrate just that, showing community members that periods of brisk walking can help curb a growing obesity epidemic, as well as decrease the odds for a host of other medical ailments.

"It’s for your health, the health of our families and the health of our communities. What could be better?” Paul Phinney, M.D., president the California Medical Association (CMA), told the crowd gathered at campaign’s kickoff event in October.

While the campaign is new to California, the "Walk with a Doc” program is hardly new. David Sabgir, M.D., a board-certified cardiologist from Columbus, Ohio, held the first event in 2005, and has been working with the CMA Foundation to bring the effort to a new market.

Staff at the CMA Foundation has been instrumental in the expansion of the campaign on the West Coast, Dr. Sabgir said, noting that their efforts would greatly benefit the health of communities across the state.

Since the project launched in October, there have been regular walks in Sacramento, Humboldt and Fresno counties. Walks are held on Saturday mornings lasting about an hour each and start with a physician giving a quick 5-10 minute talk on healthy living. These free and fun walks are open to anyone interested in taking steps to improve their health.

"So much of the stuff I see in the office is related to a sedentary lifestyle,” said Dr. Sabgir, adding that even brief periods of physical activity can help reduce the risk for heart disease, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, reduce anxiety and aid in weight loss. "The benefits of walking are better that most people think."

Walk with a Doc is also unique in the sense that it allows participants an opportunity to interact directly with physicians working to better the health of the community, building relationships that will help foster a healthy lifestyle.

Assemblymember and CMA member Richard Pan, M.D., notes that the push for walkable and sustainable communities requires champions at both the state and local level. Dr. Pan regularly participates in the Sacramento Walk with a Doc program.

With resources such as community bike paths and walking trails in place, members of the health care community hope that making health choices will be both easy and desirable for residents.
"Good health shouldn’t just be about things you have to do. It should be about things you want to do,” Dr. Pan said.

As California’s Walk with a Doc campaign continues to build momentum, the CMAF hopes to educate Californians on the benefits of walking, and in turn, increase the health of communities across the state.

“This is a great program targeting those patients that have no background in physical activity or those who have had some involvement but need a little push to get them to incorporate walking into their lifestyle,” says Sacramento physician and walk leader Steve Polansky, M.D.

Walk with a Doc is supported in California by a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation.

For more information about California’s new Walk with a Doc program, including locations and times for upcoming events, please visit the of the PHC Docs website.


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