“This is a fabulous opportunity for the community to come together to try to combat the sedentary kinds of lifestyles that we all tend to have and to try to turn that around,” said Dr. Barbara Fenton, the medical director of Augusta Health Partners, the lead physician for the local Walk with a Doc program, which kicks off on Saturday, April 2, at 8:30 a.m. at Gypsy Hill Park.
The idea is a simple one: you walk.
“You don’t need any equipment, just a pair of shoes, and giving an hour of your time on a Saturday morning. This isn’t asking a lot,” said Fenton, one of the local docs who will take part in the program, walking alongside participants, friends, family, co-workers.
Walk with a Doc is the brainchild of a Columbus, Ohio doctor, David Sabgir, in 2005, and has spread across the country over the past 11 years.
Augusta Health started talking about beginning its own Walk with a Doc program last fall
“It’s just brings fabulous possibilities,” Fenton said. “The mission is clearly right in terms of getting the community excited about taking steps to improve their health, literally taking steps. We hope this pilot project is a success and something we can build on.”
The benefits are twofold: impacting physical health and mental health.
“Diabetes, heart disease, blood pressure, hypertension, they’re all interlinked, and there’s so much that can be gained from exercise that can impact those,” Fenton said. “Death from heart disease could be reduced by 34 percent just by walking a couple of hours a week. Our country is getting heavier, with more diabetes paralleling that. Thirty-four percent of our country is obese. Exercise can combat this in so many different ways.
“But it’s not just good for the body. It’s also good for the mind, creating this sense of well-being,” Fenton said. “Even a single exercise session can help reduce feelings of anxiety, and we all have anxiety, right? It can combat depression, improve your mood, self-esteem, cognitive functioning. Even relatively low levels of exercise can have an impact on so many things in that respect.”
Walk with a Doc
1st Saturdays of the Month
Staunton, VA @ Gypsy Hill Park
Meet at the Bandstand, 600 Churchville Ave
3rd Saturdays of the Month
Waynesboro, VA@ Greenway Trail
Meet at Dominion Shelter in Constitution Park, 215 McElroy St
Rain Location: Rosenwald Community Center, 413 Port Republic Road
Story by Chris Graham