As a pediatrician, I get to talk with many families about the importance of one hour of daily heart-thumping, sweat-inducing exercise. Just 60 minutes of exercise can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease, joint problems, anxiety and depression.
While these sound like adult problems for a pediatrician to be addressing, these serious issues often are evident in early childhood. More than a third of children struggle with weight, which many will carry into adulthood. What can we do to change this unhealthy path? What tools do families need?
Dr. David Sabgir, a cardiologist in Columbus, Ohio, asked these same questions and created the Walk With a Doc program in 2005. The idea is both simple and brilliant – rather than only offering words in an office setting, let’s give patients something tangible: a prescription to walk, with a date, time and place and a commitment from the doctor to be there, as well.
Dr. Amy Hardin and I started the Woodstock chapter of Walk With a Doc in September, 2018. We meet at 4 p.m. the second and fourth Sunday of each month at Patriots Park, 1485 Kellogg Creek Road, Acworth.
We give a 3-minute health-related talk, followed by attendance prizes for kids, and then a walk. The event is open to community members of all ages and capabilities – strollers, wagons, bikes and scooters are welcome. To date, our youngest participant was a 4-month-old with her mother, and our oldest was a 73-year-old grandfather.
We walk a .75 mile loop, and everyone is encouraged to go at their own speed, from racing teenagers to strolling wagon-pullers. Afterward, kids can explore the playground, and teens can play soccer or Frisbee.
While exercising is as simple as going for a walk, having a group to hold you accountable, and other kids encouraging your kids, can make exercising seem more doable. In addition to physical activity, we can build a strong family network through Walk With a Doc. Being a parent is not an easy task. As a mother of three young children, I certainly can attest to that.
I became a pediatrician because I believe that childhood is the stage of life where I can really make a difference. If we teach kids about exercise and healthy habits from the beginning, imagine the impact it can have on the rest of their lives. I hope you will join us at our next Walk With a Doc, but no matter what you do — keep on exercising!
– Dr. Adele Goodloe, a pediatrician at Northside Pediatrics.
Take a Walk!
Aug. 11, Aug. 25, Sept. 15, Sept. 29, Oct. 13, Oct. 27
4 pm. at Patriots Park
Meet near the playground.