It’s not uncommon to periodically see one of Owensboro Health’s healthcare providers taking a stroll in or around the Healthpark as part of the “Walk with a Doc” initiative — a national program that encourages education, exercise and camaraderie.
According to the national “Walk with a Doc” website, the program began in 2005 after Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist from Columbus, Ohio, was “frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting.”
In turn, Sabgir invited his patients to walk with him on a random spring Saturday morning, which saw over 100 in attendance.
Since then, the program has grown throughout the country and worldwide.
The Healthpark began its chapter in October 2017. The walks are held near the end of each month.
Collette Carter, director of the Healthpark, said the program provides a different experience than visiting a doctor’s office for an appointment.
“It’s to provide an opportunity to have some dialogue with the physician that’s informal,” Carter said. “Most of the time in the office, it’s a little bit more of a formal setting. (This) allows you to have a dialogue and (ask) questions as you’re walking with the doctor.”
Each walk starts with an educational component, Carter said, in the form of a presentation from the participating doctor that will focus on a specific topic before the walk starts.
“They’re educating on a specific health topic, but they’re also promoting physical activity,” Carter said, “and the health benefits of physical activity along with others.
“It’s also a way for people to get to know providers in the community that they are not aware of, especially if they have certain specialities and see certain populations.”
Healthy snacks and water are provided for those in attendance.
Carter said groups that attend each month are typically small in size, which she sees as a benefit.
“... It allows people to be able to socialize and converse as they’re walking along … and then maybe they’ll meet someone that they want to walk with later on,” she said. “It’s about connecting people and creating community.
“It’s just another way of creating that sense of community and another way to promote community education and health and wellness.”
The Healthpark paused “Walk with a Doc” during the height of COVID-19. It returned in May 2022 and has experienced growing interest from the public.
“We’ve seen more and more people start to come out as we’ve gotten away from the pandemic,” Carter said.
And it’s not uncommon to see the same faces at each walk.
“We do see some folks that actually enjoy it (and see) it as an opportunity to get out,” Carter said. “It kind of keeps them motivated to do their physical activity knowing that they have a group to walk with.
“We’ve (also) had new groups (where) sometimes the providers themselves will have their own patients actually participate.”
The walks have taken place at the Healthpark, where participants are able to walk around the facility at their own pace. The sessions have also been held at parks throughout Owensboro.
In colder months or when there is inclement weather, Carter said the walks typically go on as planned by utilizing the Healthpark’s indoor walking track.
The next “Walk with a Doc” is at noon Tuesday, June 27 at Moreland Park, 1215 Hickman Ave.
The participating physician, Dr. W. Scott Black of Owensboro Health Medical Group Lifestyle and Sports Medicine, will be discussing the benefits of nordic walking.
“Walk with a Doc” is free to the public and does not require a Healthpark membership.
“Anyone is welcome to come and participate,” Carter said. “... (We) look forward to meeting new people and engaging them in the opportunity to see the benefits of walking and (getting) to know our providers.”
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