News / Health

    Walking Program Pairs Patients with Doctors

    Shelley Schlender
    DENVER, COLORADO - These days, Mary Halpin loves to walk.

    “This walking has just given me life, you know?" she says. "To be in the air, and not to be an old lady at home, sitting in a recliner.”   

    Six years ago, a serious disease made it impossible for the Denver retiree to walk much at all, even with her special, wheeled walker.

    'Walk with a Doc'

    But Halpin is now back to exercising, thanks to a program called, “Walk with a Doc.”

    “I could walk maybe half a block,” she says. “Now I can walk, without having to stop and take a long break, depending upon the block, it can be between 10 and 12 city blocks.”

    Denver’s Walk with a Doc program is part of a nationwide exercise effort in 60 other cities in 20 states.

    Cardiologist Andrew Freeman, who organizes the free walks in Denver, has seen many cases of lung and heart disease improve with exercise and looks at Walk with a Doc as a great way for medical professionals to ‘walk the talk’ about good health.

    “We started about two years ago and only had about 20 people show up.  Now we’re up to about 100 or more, depending on where we do it and when we do it,” he says. “There are no copays [patient costs] and it’s a fun day in an effort to show people that exercise can be medicine.”  

    'Walk the talk'

    Several other health professionals leave their white coats behind for the morning walk.

    "We’re trying to break down barriers and make it so that a patient can find their doctor," Freeman says. "Talk to them informally and then watch them practice what they preach.”

    The walks are held at least once a month in various parks around Denver. They start with free health screenings, including blood pressure readings and lung capacity checks.

    There’s a brief talk about how to treat asthma and a stretching class. Then, when everyone starts to walk, Freeman encourages them to do it briskly.

    “You want to be short of breath, sweating, if it’s warm enough and unable to complete a sentence," he says. "That’s how you know you’re working hard enough.  But check with your doctor first, obviously.”

    Not everyone walks fast, but they do walk, and all have good reasons to be here.

    “I have high blood pressure and my doctor said come do this and get myself a little more fit than I am right now,” said one man.

    Seeing changes

    “I started this in March," says a woman participant, "and since then I’ve lost two and a half [dress] sizes, just by walking.”

    “Everyone seems to be passing us by," says Diane Kinsella, walking at a slower pace with husband Bill. "But we’re walking still, so that’s the important part.”

    After a 30-minute circle around the park, the Kinsellas join walkers who’ve stopped to socialize, while others continue on for another round. Diane says this may be enough for now. Her husband had open heart surgery just two months ago, so she’s glad he’s doing well and that real doctors are walking with them this morning.

    “I would like not to come back to this if my husband’s heart health would improve, and that’s our goal," she says. "So that we can walk just on our own, and we won’t have to always monitor his heart. He’ll be heart healthy all the time.”

    Doctor Freeman says the program really does help people grow stronger, and become more confident about exercising.  He hopes these supervised outings motivate participants to eventually walk more than 150 minutes every week.

    “The goal here again is to really help people understand that exercise is the best, freest and most effective medicine for almost any condition,” he says.

    And it’s worked for many of these participants, who say they’re walking a lot more often these days.  That includes Mary Halpin, with her wheeled walker.

    “Every time I come, I find myself stronger. I’m walking more," she says. "If I go to the grocery store, I’ll do more turns around the grocery store, I deliberately go up and down aisles. I do anything to keep moving. I don’t feel almost 75. I feel as good as I did when I was 50.”

    That's why Halpin says she’ll be back next month, to walk with a doc.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora