Updated: Aug 29, 2022
We are excited about the return of our in-person Walk With a Doc program on Indy Greenways. The national Walk with a Doc program was started in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio. Frustrated with his inability to affect behavior change in the clinical setting, Dr. Sabgir invited his patients to go for a walk with him in a local park on a spring Saturday morning. To his surprise, over 100 people showed up, energized and ready to move. Since that first event in 2005, Walk with a Doc has grown as a grassroots effort with a model based on sustainability and simplicity. In 2018, the Indianapolis Greenways Partnership became a local affiliate of the program as part of its programming efforts on Indy Greenways.
After a long Covid-hiatus, beginning in September, we will be once again offering a series of walks on different greenways around the city. These walks are a great way to stay in shape, see the different greenways in Indianapolis, learn new tips for staying healthy, and have a conversation with a physician about common health and walking issues. Dr. Carrie Leathers, Internist and Pediatrician at Eskenazi Pecar Health Center will again be leading our walks. Dr. Leathers has been leading our Walk With a Doc walks since they started in 2018. Dr. Leathers provides bi-lingual (English and Spanish) commentary depending upon walk participants, and connects with walkers on a personal level about establishing and maintaining healthy lifestyles. We sat down and talked with Dr. Leathers about the program and what participants can expect at our Walks With a Doc.
Tell us about your practice and why you got involved with the Walk With a Doc program.
DR. LEATHERS: I am an internal medicine and pediatric physician and I have been practicing since 2013 at Eskenazi Health. Walking is great for our health and a fantastic opportunity to connect with patients beyond the clinic walls. I enjoy the outdoors and findings ways to connect to the green spaces in our city. Walk With a Doc is a way to help my patients connect with these spaces, as well. Just because we live in the city doesn’t mean we can’t connect with nature and exercise.
How did you become so passionate about walking?
DR. LEATHERS: Look around the world. In many, many parts of the world, walking is an integral part of daily life, whether walking to work or the market or school. The United States is facing an obesity epidemic and part of this stems from the designs of our cities and communities where it’s not feasible walk as a part of typical daily life. This means we must work hard to find other ways to make time for walking. The health benefits, physical and emotional, are endless.
Why do you think programs like Walk With a Doc are so important?
DR. LEATHERS: Our patients need to see that our commitment to health extends beyond the clinic walls. We need to meet patients where they are in the community rather than always expecting them to come to us.
What can participants expect at one of the Walk With a Doc programs?
DR. LEATHERS: A one-mile leisurely walk (approximately 30 minutes) and the opportunity to discuss a health related topic in a casual atmosphere
What advice would you give to people who participate in the program?
DR. LEATHERS: We will always walk half the distance and then turn around and walk back, this way at any point if it feels like it might be too much you can turn back sooner than the rest of the group.
Anything other advice you want to share?
DR. LEATHERS: I want my patients to feel empowered to try the outdoors, even if the temperatures are cooling off. Our city is fully of amazing, safe, green spaces and in times of national and international turmoil, coming together to share a healthy activity like walking can provide joy and increase your personal resilience.
We will be holding our next Walk With a Doc programs on September 24th on the Eagle Creek Greenway and October 22nd on the Pleasant Run Greenway. Both walks begin at 1:00 pm. These walks are bilingual and free, but we ask that participants register to attend. For more information or to register, visit our website at www.greenwayspartnership.com.