On October 1-3, 2013 my travels took me to Washington DC to take part in the Every Body Walk! Collaborative Summit. This was an exciting event that brought together leaders from the fields of medicine, public health, education, community development, urban planning and social policy to discuss how we can get American’s to walk more. This Summit was really the result of all the work we have done to promote the power of walking to improve health thru the Every Body Walk! campaign. This campaign has now grown into a collaborative effort, that involves more than 100 business, government and nonprofit partners all working together towards the common goal of increasing walking and creating more walkable communities.
The Summit was attended by a host of leaders, including our 18th Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin, Kaiser Permanente CEO and Chairman George Halvorson and various other walking advocates from around the country. It offered a forum for leaders from a broad range of disciplines to share ideas on how we can make America more walkable so that every citizen can benefit from the tremendous health benefits we know that walking brings.
In my talk, I suggested that walking is like a drug that can be used to treat and prevent a wide range of medical conditions. The recommended dose for a drug called walking is 150 minutes per week done at a moderate pace (fast enough that you couldn’t sing while doing your walk, but not so fast that you couldn’t talk). I explained that walking had a variety of side effects, but most of them were desirable, like lowering blood pressure, pulse and blood sugar; lowering weight and cholesterol and improving sleep and bowel habits. In fact, if there really was a drug that did all this, it would be the most powerful one we have and no doubt every physician would prescribe it and every patient would want to take it. Especially when we find out that this drug called walking is free!
Of course, while I was in DC I got the chance to do a good bit of walking and thoroughly enjoyed it. DC is one of America’s most walkable cities and I love to walk around the White House, the Capital and various monuments. This trip was even more special because I was able to walk with my son Matt, who is spending a semester studying in Washington DC.
I came away from this Summit even more energized to promote walking to my patients and amazed by all the leaders around the country who feel the same way I do. I am convinced that the time is right to get America walking and this group will figure out how to do it. I hope you share my enthusiasm and will help spread the word that walking is medicine.
Keep on walking my friends.