Walk with a Doc: Take Steps to a Healthier You

Walk your way to better health and get answers to your most pressing health questions from an experienced physician by joining MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Walk with a Doc walking team. Come out on the first Saturday of every month—rain or shine at the National Arboretum Visitors Center at 9 a.m. to be a part of this important and worthwhile journey. 

One of a Kind in the DC Region

The Hospital Center wants you to be as healthy as you can be. Walk with a Doc combines exercise with the chance to talk with a qualified and accomplished physician as you stroll your way to a healthier you. It’s free, easy and the only one of its kind in the Washington DC area.

Benefits of Walking

Statistics show a link between physical activity and reduced risk of heart disease. Walking can improve your total cholesterol, blood sugar and resting heart rate. Just 30 minutes a day, seven days a week will give you this tremendous benefit that can reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer by as much as 50 percent. You can even break it up into quick and manageable 10-minute sessions, three times a day.

Lessons Learned While Walking

During a previous Walk with a Doc event, Dr. Patricia Davidson, a prominent cardiologist and internist, informed the group that heart disease is the number 1 killer of men and women and the most preventable. She stressed the importance of “knowing your numbers” for LDL, HDL and triglycerides:

  1. LDL (Low-density lipoprotein) is also known as the bad cholesterol. You should strive for LDL cholesterol of less than 100. Genetics can be a factor in a high LDL. Or, you may be eating too much animal fat.
  2. HDL (High-density lipoprotein) is known as the good cholesterol. Ideally, your HDL number should be 50 or above. If it is low, you can boost your level by exercising, losing weight and if you smoke, stop. The higher your numbers, the more protective it is to your heart.
  3. Triglycerides are fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. A number lower than 150 is ideal. If your numbers are high, cut back on carbohydrates (carbs), excess calories, alcohol, and sugar.

Bottom line, high HDL levels are at lower risk for heart disease. People with low HDL levels are at a higher risk.

It’s Heart Smart to Walk

Your heart is a muscle and it needs exercise to stay in shape. When it's exercised, the heart can pump more blood through the body and continue working at optimal efficiency with little strain. This will likely help it to stay healthy longer. When you exercise on a regular basis, it helps to keep your arteries and other blood vessels flexible, which ensures good blood flow and normal blood pressure and cholesterol.

You’ve likely heard the saying, “a little goes a long way.” That statement applies to exercising. As long as you have a program that you stick to on a regular basis, it works.

So, come out and join us for the next Walk with a Doc event on the 1st Saturday of every month at the National Arboretum, as we walk, talk and exercise our heart.


Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about Walk With a Doc, visit our Community Relations website, send an email to [email protected], or call Community Relations at 202-877-9600.

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Walk with a Doc – A Doctor’s Perspective

As I turned in bed, the crispness in the air and pitter-patter of tiny droplets of rain on my bedroom windows aroused me from my nights slumber. I thought to myself, “What time is it? I have to get up?” The morning had finally arrived. Most Saturday mornings like this when I am not on-call, I toss and turn much longer, to make up my sleep deficit from the previous week. But not this day, I had to be at the National Arboretum before 9 a.m., to take part in a new community initiative at MedStar Washington Hospital Center called, “Walk with a Doc.”

“Walk with a Doc” is a national health and wellness campaign created to improve the connection between community members and health providers. My colleague, Dr. Patricia Davidson, a cardiologist and internist and I would lead each session, allow walkers to ask questions and make new friends. I was delighted to engage with the community this way, and take my message beyond the walls of exam rooms.

Exercise and Cardiovascular Health

A wealth of evidence has demonstrated that participating in regular physical activity like brisk walking is associated with lower rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity, and certain forms of cancer. In addition, increasing physical activity can improve mental health and memory, contributing to an overall sense of well-being.

Cardiovascular disease and stroke are the first and fifth most common causes of death in the United States. Even worse than death for some, stroke is the major cause of disability for adults. Therefore, the health burden for these two diseases combined is enormous. The sad part is that both are preventable. As the associate medical director for the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the Hospital Center, I have seen first-hand the devastation of stroke: lost lives, lost income, widowed family members, orphaned children, and work undone. So, I had to be at this inaugural event on time, despite the rain.

Taking Steps toward Better Health

When I arrived on site, colleagues from the Community Relations Department were already in place as well as ten to 12 community members. Briefly, I spoke about the cardiovascular benefits and other health benefits of moderate exercise. We began our one-mile walk around the beautifully landscaped area of the Arboretum. Two groups of walkers naturally formed based on the pace of each group. After the walk, Dr. Davidson spoke to the group and answered questions that were generated during the walk. Most participants were trying to gain a better understanding of the benefits of walking. Dr. Davidson shared how walking improved a person’s cardiovascular, health, cognitive health and could decrease the risk for stroke. The walkers were committed to improving their overall health. It was a congenial group and I met some great people from the community. An opportunity to get outside and get going with a group of like-minded people is the sole purpose of the program. I look forward to next week, same place same time, as we lace up our walking shoes and “walk with a doc” towards better health.

The Walk with a Doc event takes place on the first Saturday of every month, rain or shine, starting at 9 a.m. at the National Arboretum, located at 3501 New York Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. The event is free and no registration is required.  Just put on a pair of comfortable shoes and meet us at the park!

For more information, visit www.medstarwashington.org/community

Have any questions?

We are here to help! If you have any questions about the Walk with a Doc or other community relations programs email MedStar Washington Hospital Center at [email protected]

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