In early-September 2015, my travels took me to our nation’s capital, Washington DC for the US Surgeon General’s Call to Action on Walking and Walkable Communities. This was a very exciting event for me and one we have been working toward thru the Every Body Walk! collaborative for several years. It really began in January of 2011, with the launch of the Every Body Walk! Campaign, that was the brainchild of then Kaiser Permanente Chairman and CEO George Halvorson. After looking at the evidence behind the health benefits of physical activity, George rightfully concluded that walking is the single best thing a person can do to improve health and that what was needed was a campaign to get America Walking.
From the beginning the EBW Campaign was a success, with millions of web site views (everybodywalk.org), a documentary film (The Walking Revolution), a public service announcement (featuring the cast of the West Wing), a float in the Rose Bowl Parade, and a national television show (City Walk). Early on in the campaign, then US Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin called to ask if she could adopt the campaign as her own and help promote walking during her tenure as Surgeon General. From there, the idea for a Surgeon General’s Call to Action was established in conjunction with the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). So it was very satisfying to watch our 19th Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy formally issue this Call to Action and begin to formalize plans on how best to make the goals of this call a reality.
The Call to Action event was held at the beautiful Kaiser Center for Total Health in Washington DC and attracted a packed house of walking advocates who will help to advance the Surgeon General’s walking agenda. Dr. Murthy delivered an inspiring keynote message on why walking is so important and he called on all sectors of society to do what they can to help promote walking and more walkable communities. I was honored to speak on behalf of the healthcare sector and advocate for all physicians to assess the exercise habits of their patients and prescribe walking like it was a medication.
Following the program, all the participants from the call to action were invited to go on a walk thru the local area, led by Dr. Ted Eytan, who is a Kaiser family physician and director of the Kaiser Center for Total Health. It was the perfect end to a wonderful event and provided a chance for all of use to explore the revitalized DC neighborhood surrounding the Center for Total Health and only a few blocks from the capital. Now the work really begins to help put the Surgeon General’s call into action. I hope you will join us in our goal of getting Every Body to Walk!