SCRANTON, Pa. — As part of a movement to promote health, nature, and local parks and trails, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) has announced the second annual month-long effort to encourage communities and health professionals to get active together during the “Walk with a Doc” programs across Pennsylvania.
The effort is a collaboration between DCNR, the Pennsylvania Medical Society, Geisinger, the Walk with a Doc program, and the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation.
The initiative provides communities the opportunity to take an active role in their health while exploring their local outdoor recreational areas with the medical professionals who provide care in their communities.
“The first year of the program showed the success of this effort that introduces people to new trails to try and makes the connection between health and the outdoors,” said DCNR Deputy Secretary Lauren Imgrund. “There are many partners in this collaborative effort with the same goal of healthy people and close to home and welcoming local parks, trails, and natural places.”
Throughout the month, communities and health organizations are hosting Walk with a Doc events around the state.
An event was held in Scranton recently and was hosted by Geisinger and led by Dr. Michael Suk, chief physician officer and chair of Geisinger’s Musculoskeletal Institute and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
The event featured a short health talk from Suk, followed by a walk along the Lackawanna River Heritage Trail, information on health services and local vendors.
“Our Walk with a Doc program joins our medical knowledge of the “what and why” of physical activity with DCNR’s expertise of “where.” It’s a natural partnership that links professionals and communities in the pursuit of better health,” Suk said. “Geisinger is a proud partner in this venture, and we look forward to its continued growth in all our regions.”
Participation in the walks throughout September is free. Communities or organizations interested in hosting a walk can get assistance with finding a doctor from the Pennsylvania Medical Society.
The statewide initiative will run throughout Pennsylvania Trails Month in September.
“Trails connect places, are one of the best guides to nature, and more than 75% of Pennsylvanians believe that along with parks they are an essential component of our health care system,” Imgrund said. “We’re fortunate to have thousands of miles to hike, ride, and paddle throughout the state, just waiting to be explored at little to no cost.”
Walking is one of the best things you can do for your health, and numerous studies point to the health benefits of spending time in nature.
Getting regular physical activity on trails helps:
Reduce stress and anxiety
Reduce risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers
Strengthen bones and muscles
Improve mental health and mood
Improve sleep quality
Increase your chances of living longer
Increase positive feelings about quality of life
Keeps your lungs healthy
Pennsylvania’s events are a part of the international Walk with a Doc program. In communities around the globe, doctors gather at least once a month to give a brief presentation on a health topic and then lead participants on a walk at their own pace.
Learn more about the launch of the Pennsylvania Walk with a Doc program on a DCNR video at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=8opKwecMwu4. For more information about the Walk with a Doc program, visit: www.walkwithadoc.org.