by Texas Medical Association staff
Patients, friends and their loved ones walk side-by-side with their physicians, specialists and healthcare professionals to provide support and get answers on how Texans can improve their health and live happier lives.
The TMA Foundation, the association’s philanthropic arm, received $40,000 for the program to assist doctors to host walks with their patients, as well as provide marketing and promotional materials, and cover insurance costs and technical support. The TMA Foundation also added $20,000 to fund the program.
The Walk With a Doc program is part of a national grassroots movement devoted to encouraging healthy physical activity. The basic concept is simple. Physicians organize walks in their communities and invite their patients and their patients’ families to join them.
For the past year, Texas physicians have led pilot-program walks in Houston, Lubbock, and Georgetown.
Susan Pike, MD, a Round Rock physician who hosted several Georgetown walks with her patients, explained, “The program isn’t about just weight loss or exercise. It’s about moving more, eating better, and learning about simple things we can do that can influence our health positively. These are the types of changes people can embrace that can lead to success.”
“Texas physicians can now improve the health of Texans, one walk at a time,” she said.
Pike, a consultant to TMA’s Council on Health Promotion, vetted the concept for the organization. TMA is the largest state medical society representing more than 47,000 physician and medical student members.
“As a doctor, I understand the challenge people face in changing their lifestyle to healthier behaviors,” said Garth Graham, MD, president of the Aetna Foundation. “The Walk With a Doc program shows great promise in providing people with ongoing motivation to live healthier lives. We are pleased to support the program’s expansion in Texas as part of our support for community-based programs that improve people’s health and well-being.”
Created by cardiologist David Sabgir, MD, the Ohio based Walk With a Doc organization aim is to reverse consequences of sedentary lifestyles while improving the health and well-being of people throughout America through monthly physician-led walks.
“Walk With a Doc allows physicians to interact with their patients outside the office, where they can see their doctors practice what they preach,” said Debbie Fuller, MD, vice president of the TMA Foundation and immediate past chair of the TMA Council on Health Promotion. “What’s discussed in the office is put in motion outside the office.”
According to Fuller, patients’ comments and questions during the walks tend to feed off of one another as they discuss general health and lifestyle issues with a person they trust — their physician.
“It’s me and my patients, real-life in sweats together, just talking about health and well-being while we’re out getting exercise,” she said.