When it comes to strategies for staying well, walking is a clear winner. It’s free, it’s easy and it improves nearly every aspect of health. Now some UCLA Health doctors are stepping up to help people make walking a priority.
As part of a program called Walk With a Doc, physicians at UCLA Health offices in Westlake Village and Redondo Beach lead monthly walks that get people out into the beautiful California landscape to improve their health.
Walk With a Doc began in 2005 with a cardiologist in Ohio who persuaded one sedentary patient to join him on a walk. Others joined in and the idea snowballed, with more and more people making walking a habit. The program now has more than 140 locations in the U.S. and other countries.
“I wholeheartedly support the Walk With A Doc mission to encourage healthy physical activity in people of all ages,” says Michelle Lin Emi, MD, a UCLA internal medicine physician in Westlake Village, and leader of the Westlake Village walks. “A sedentary lifestyle raises many health risks, but even moderate activity can turn that around.”
In addition to the health benefits of physical activity, the walks offer an opportunity for a casual chat with a doctor. Dr. Emi and Jennifer Logan, MD, are among the many UCLA Health primary care and specialty physicians who have volunteered to lead future walks. A doctor begins each walk by introducing a popular health topic. The talks naturally evolve into conversation as participants walk alongside the physician.
According to Dr. Logan, a UCLA family practice physician at the Redondo Beach office who leads the program there, these casual talks are an excellent way to impart health information. “During an office visit, people are often stressed and overwhelmed. They may be more at ease on a walk, which makes it easier to learn and understand,” she says.
The Walk With a Doc routes contribute to the relaxing character of the walks. The Redondo Beach walk, which starts at Miramar Park, includes stunning views of the ocean. At Westlake Village, the route takes walkers through peaceful Triunfo Community Park. This walk includes warm-up exercises led by physical therapists from co-sponsor Athletic Physical Therapy. Walkers desiring a bit more challenge may hike along the Triunfo Canyon Trail to the Los Robles Trail, where they are rewarded with panoramic views of the Conejo Valley.
Walk With a Doc member physicians, such as Drs. Emi and Logan, organize and run the programs. Both say the walks are popular with people in the community — about 20 people typically walk in the Redondo Beach group and more than 40 at Westlake Village. The participating doctors also look forward to getting out on the trail.
“It’s rewarding to see people come out and take charge of their health,” Dr. Logan says.
Walk With a Doc is free, and people of all ages and abilities are encouraged to participate. You can learn more, including schedules, by visiting: uclahealth.org/WalkWithADoc