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Upstate launches Walk with a Doc program

Upstate Medical University will soon offer members of the Central New York community a chance to get some exercise and medical information all at once through Walk with a Doc.

Walk with a Doc launches Saturday at 9 a.m., June 8 at Onondaga Lake Park and continues once a month year-round on the second Saturday of the month.

The one-hour sessions begin with a brief talk by an Upstate physician followed by a walk, where participants can walk at their own pace and distance while getting to know each other and the doctor.

Upstate Pathway Education Coordinator Elizabeth Fuertes-Binder, also a member of the Upstate Cancer Center Outreach Team, said when the outreach team learned about the program, it made sense to start a chapter here since walking has a myriad of health benefits. Add to it the chance to connect with a physician outside of a doctor’s office, and it’s a win-win.

“You’ll receive free health education in a relaxed setting outdoors,” she said. “It builds community to see that physicians are active outside of their jobs.”

Walk with a Doc is a nonprofit that was started in 2005 by Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio. Initially aimed at helping patients get more physical activity, the program's benefits go far beyond a simple walk. The opportunity to build friendships within the community, spend time in nature, and receive free health education in a relaxed setting is an all-in-one prescription for better health. There are more than 500 WWAD chapters around the world.

Fuertes-Binder said the physicians participating will select their topics, which will be announced a few days before each walk. Topics could be the physician’s specialty or anything that’s of interest to the physician, such as reading food labels, fall prevention or heat awareness. The aim of combining the physician’s talk with the walk is to encourage more people to come out and experience the health benefits of walking.

“It can reduce stress and anxiety, it helps you sleep better, it improves your mood, it lowers your risk for heart disease and strokes,” Fuertes-Binder said.

Walks are scheduled for July 13, Aug. 17, Sept. 14 and Oct. 12 at Onondaga Lake Park. In the winter, walks will be held indoors at Destiny USA. Meet by the Skatepark for the outdoor walks and by the carousel in the food court for the indoor walks.

Register here.

For any physicians interested in leading a walk, please contact Fuertes-Binder at [email protected]. Interested participants with questions can reach out as well.