In late April 2012 my travels took me to Portland, to speak at the Annual Meeting of the Oregon Medical Association. This organization represents doctors from the state of Oregon and therefore is made up of multiple medical specialties. I was there to talk to them about the health benefits of exercise and really enjoyed the chance to interact with physicians who practice a wide range of medical specialties.
The beauty of the message about walking is that it is important to the health of virtually every patient. So my talk was just as relevant to the cardiologist as it was to the pediatrician or the obstetrician or the orthopedist. All of their patients could benefit from hearing the message about the amazing health benefits of walking. And of course, all of these doctors themselves could benefit from regular walking and serve as great role models for their own patients.
At the end of my talk I had some time for questions and was amazed by the comments from the doctors in attendance. This information really resonated with them. A psychiatrist told about the amazing improvement he had seen in his depressed patients who exercised. A rheumatologist talked about how effective regular walking was for her patients suffering from all types of arthritis, as well as those suffering from fibromyalgia, which is always difficult to treat. And an oncologist mentioned that his terminal cancer patients who exercised seemed to need less pain medication, were less depressed and had to be admitted to the hospital less often.
Walking really is an amazing medication that has an incredibly wide range of indications. The optimal dose is 30 minutes a day taken on 5 or more days each week. However, if you miss your dose one day, you can always take a double (or triple) dose the next day to make up for it. It has a few side effects you need to watch out for, like muscle soreness or plantar fasciitis, but these are usually minor and self limited. And the best part about this medication is that it is free, readily available and can be taken pretty much anywhere. What a deal!
Of course, no trip to Portland would be complete without a nice walk along the beautiful Willamette River. I was lucky enough to visit on a postcard weekend and enjoyed several great walks along the river in perfect weather conditions. Taking your walking medicine is really easy on days like this.
I hope you are taking your walking medicine daily!
Keep on walking.