In late-April 2016, my travels took me to Dallas, Texas to attend the Annual Meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine (AMSSM). This meeting is always a great opportunity to meet up with friends and colleagues from around the country who practice primary care sports medicine. This year’s meeting was especially fun for me because it gave me a chance to visit with my youngest daughter Shannon, who is living in Dallas and teaching high school chemistry at an inner city high school, as part of a program called Teach for America. This has been a great experience for her and the first time she has lived outside of California.
It also gave me a chance to visit with my old friend Dr. Ben Levine, who is a renowned cardiologist at the UT Southwestern Medical School and the founding director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine. This is an amazing place that is dedicated to studying the limits of human exercise and performance. Ben gave me a fascinating tour of the various altitude, heat and cold chambers that are used to study the effects of these extremes on exercise. It is always enlightening for me to learn about the broad array of research that continues to be done to document the health effects of exercise and how study after study continues to add to the evidence that something as simple as walking is the single best thing you can do to improve your health. So why doesn’t everyone do it?
Well that is the million dollar question and the reason for the Every Body Walk! Campaign. It drives us to continue to share the latest evidence and innovative ways we can make our communities more walkable and encourage everyone to do the walking they need to stay healthy. And it’s always great to see that our walking recommendations are supported by cutting edge research and expert opinion.
Of course, while I was in Dallas I made sure to get out and walk every day. I especially enjoyed walking on the historic Katy Trail, which runs right thru the heart of Dallas and is built on an old railway line. This trail has been privately funded and supported by the local community. I was amazed to see the large numbers of people out walking on the trail every day. To me it is more proof that “if we just build it, they will come” and that something as simple as a walking trail may be the single best thing a city can do to improve the health of its citizens. Forget more hospitals or clinics, I believe that dollar for dollar we can save more lives by getting people to walk than any pill or procedure I can prescribe. So why don’t more cities follow this lead?
I hope you can help change that by spreading the word in your community and doing what you can to make it more walkable.
Keep walking my friends!