Have you heard of “Walk with a Doc”?
Anna Deraco is a Physician Assistant with Family First Health, who has spearheaded the development of a Lebanon chapter of a National/International initiative known as “Walk with a Doc.”
Deraco said that Walk with a Doc was initially founded in 2005 by a cardiologist based in Ohio who wanted to find a way to better connect with his patients while also encouraging them to partake in healthy activities.
Deraco said that much to his surprise at the time, about a hundred people attended his first ever “Walk with a Doc” event. Since then, the initiative has spread like wildfire all over the United States and worldwide.
Deraco said, “He kind of knew that he was on to something in terms of people wanting this. People want to be active, but not necessarily alone.”
According to the “Walk with a Doc” website, there are approximately 500 chapters established across the world to date.
Deraco founded the Lebanon Chapter of “Walk with a Doc” this year. They held their first event in October, with approximately 25 people attending their inaugural event.
Deraco said the monthly event is held at the Union Canal Tunnel Park. She said they initially considered hosting the event at different locations each month but decided against it because of the potential confusion and safety hazards of walking in more centralized urban areas.
Deraco also said that besides offering a safe location for walkers, the trail at Union Canal Tunnel Park is not particularly strenuous, with it being approximately two miles total from start to finish. She said even if participants feel they need more time to complete the two miles, they are still encouraged to come even if they only end up walking part of the trail.
Additionally, Deraco said the first five minutes of the hour-long event are typically designated for a short health-related talk. While the topics of these health talks vary from month to month, their purpose is to help better educate community members and give them an opportunity to ask questions they may have.
Deraco added that because Lebanon has a sizable Hispanic population and approximately 80% of her patients are Spanish-speaking residents; the talks will be in Spanish and English to promote inclusivity.
Deraco said that for the November walk, she plans to discuss the adverse effects of loneliness on people’s health. According to the former Surgeon General, the dangers of loneliness are on par with smoking or obesity.
Deraco said that although the walks cannot take the place of medical checkups and formal diagnoses, participants are welcome to come with health-related questions that they might have.
When asked how poor weather may affect the event, Deraco said they plan to host the events rain or shine, so long as there are no violent storms. She said they would plan to keep the events outside in light rain; however, they may consider postponing or finding an indoor location if there is heavy rain.
Deraco also said that the walks occur year-round, regardless of the cold or snow. She said there are many misconceptions about the hazards of being out in the cold; however, her philosophy is that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.”
Deraco said there are many health benefits of spending some time in cold weather and that she plans to make that the focus of one of the health topics in the future.
For those interested, the walks take place on the third Saturday of every month (except for November, which will be the second Saturday) at 10:00 AM.
Finally, Deraco added that she would give free “Walk with a Doc” pedometers to the first 25 walkers that show up.
For more information, you can visit their Facebook page, Walk With A Doc Lebanon, PA, or check out their website https://walkwithadoc.org/join-a-walk/locations/lebanon-pennsylvania/.