February is American Heart Month, so I wanted to share about a wonderful program for heart patients that I discovered through one of my weight loss clients. It’s called “Walk With A Doc” and was created by Dr. David Sabgir, a board-certified cardiologist who practices with Mount Carmel Clinical Cardiovascular Specialists in Columbus, Ohio (my hometown).
Dr. Sabgir came up with this innovative idea in 2005, and doctors around the world are taking note. The concept is for doctors to walk with groups of their patients to encourage exercise and make themselves more accessible.
The program initially stemmed from Dr. Sabgir’s frustration in urging his heart patients to exercise, but seeing so few of them follow his recommendation. He wondered if more would get involved if he invited them to walk with him. Perhaps it would be a win-win, with no major expense: The walking could help people lose weight and fight the effects of disease and age, and it also would give the doctor time to provide quick answers to their health questions.
To launch Dr. Sabgir’s first walk with his patients, he had his nurse make fliers to build interest. To his amazement, 101 people showed up. The program started with a 2.2-mile hike on a spring day in suburban Columbus, and now the idea has spread. In less than a decade, Walk With A Doc has grown to approximately 120 programs in a three countries. “We want everyone in the world to have access to this,” Dr. Sabgir says.
Cardiovascular disease often can be controlled through a healthy diet and regular exercise. And according to the American Heart Association, walking has the lowest dropout rate of any physical activity.
“Our goal is simple,” Dr. Sabgir explains. “We want to transform medicine. We were seeing a lot of people who were intimidated to go to health clubs or really do anything without the supervision of a doctor. They didn’t want to be seen on a treadmill next to someone running an 8-minute mile, when all they were doing was walking.”
Participants praise the benefits of the hikes, including the chance to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and the access to a physician in an informal setting.
Friends, I encourage you to make walking a regular part of your fitness regimen. And if you are looking for accountability and a healthy community for support, consider the “Walk With A Doc” program. You can find out more by visiting www.walkwithadoc.org. Think of how much fun you could have by joining your doctor and other highly motivated people looking to improve their health.
Read more from Mary Buchan, Lifestyle RN on her blog